Just because the city is on lockdown, doesn’t mean you can’t still brighten your day, wardrobe and household by shopping with some of the finest independent makers and retailers in Norwich and the surrounding areas.
Norwich is home to all manner of crafty creative types and one-of-a-kind boutiques, which you can usually find by perusing the Lanes and popping your head in to events like the Fierce Babes markets. But with the high street closed up for the foreseeable, it’s time to take it online.
If you’re in need of a pandemic pick-me-up, here are a handful of brilliant places to shop, which I’ve split into categories for ease of navigation. All these shops and makers are offering delivery at the time of writing!
Gifts and homewares
Elm appeared out of nowhere in 2017, and seemed to almost instantly establish themselves as an unmissable part of the much-loved Norwich Lanes. Trading ‘thoughtful, design-led’ homewares and gifts, there are beautiful handcrafted items here that you won’t find anywhere else in the city. Oh yeah, and they also have an inimitable range of glorious houseplants in all shapes and sizes.
While the physical shop is currently closed, you can buy a Mystery Plant Box from Elm for just £20 – with free shipping. Or if you’re feeling a little more luxurious, pick from bigger and bolder options ranging up to £200.
Wild by Ali Cottrell
From pins and patches to posters and prints, there are all manner of beautifully illustrated homewares to be found in Ali Cottrell’s Etsy store. David Attenborough cut-out mask so that you can be your hero, anyone? Trio of hand-illustrated Jurassic Park prints? What more do you need in these trying times?!
Alongside all of the above, teatowels, cards and notepads, you can also buy gift vouchers from the shop to be used when the world goes back to normal again. I’ve got a great ‘leaf me alone’ botanical sweatshirt from this maker (eco-friendly dyes on organic fabric, anyone?) and there are plenty of other treats to be seen at No.31 St Augustine’s once the lockdown ends.
Head in the Clouds
Fun fact: Head in the Clouds purports to be Britain’s oldest head shop – but they haven’t just been selling rizlas and, er, herb grinders, since the 1970s – they also have a great stock of comforting homewares including rugs and throws, cushions, salt lamps, and plenty of calming accessories like incense and essential oils to help you relax in a testing time.
From stocking-filler type toys and trinkets to henna hair dye, intricate jewellery and hemp clothing, this is a unique hippy hangout when it’s open as usual, and a little lockdown isn’t stopping them from doing what they can to deliver orders to those who still want to shop.
You have to go a little old-school on this one, and submit your order via email or their on-site form, but you can then pay via PayPal once the order is confirmed.
Cross-Stitch Your Soul
The range in the online store varies throughout the year, but Danni – the maker – takes custom orders for pretty much anything you can think of. If you’re in the mood for a cute and kitsch cross-stitch to decorate your home, or you want to send one to someone else as a gift, look no further than Cross Stitch Your Soul.
From sweary subversive cross-stitch to old school Vine references, with plenty of cute everyday greetings thrown in, check out @dannikeens on Instagram to see more examples of these simple but effective household adornments.
DIY and household essentials
Need lightbulbs? Batteries? Tools? Maybe you want to use your time indoors to do some redecorating? To a Norwich local it might feel strange to shop online with Thorns, as experiencing the labyrinth of the shop itself is part of the experience. But this is a shop that’s more than deserving of our support during this weird time, and you can buy all kinds of DIY items and home essentials for home delivery!
While some items aren’t available online, there’s plenty that is, spanning their gardening range, kitchen range, electricals, cleaning and more.
Clothing and jewellery
Not just for skateboarders (though, you know, you could say it’s a focus) Drug Store stock tonnes of great shoes and clothing on top of their hardware range.
Prepare to emerge from isolation in a Twin Peaks long sleeve and a fresh pair of Vans, or whatever else from the range floats your boat. Hoodies, long-sleeves, overalls, hats and jeans… there’s plenty to browse here if you want to upgrade your outfits before it’s time to return to normality.
It’s not every day you have a beautiful handmade lingerie set arrive in the post with a return address that’s in Lowestoft, but ELB Handmade is a true Norfolk (and now Cambridgeshire) gem. Selling bodysuits, swimwear, bralets and bra & knicker sets, every item is handmade from scratch, so be patient while items are cut, sewn and packaged up for sending.
You might assume that these pieces would be expensive, but with sets ranging between £14 – £24 at the time of writing, you’d be wrong. Better yet, because each item is custom made, you don’t need to pick a standard size off the peg and hope it fits – you can note your bra and knicker measurements when you order, to make sure your chosen pieces are perfect.
Whether you’re using your time indoors to arrange a wardrobe overhaul, or just want some nice grooming products, accessories and homewares, Working Title menswear might have something for you.
Specialising in upmarket casual, with a shop full of on-trend workwear clothing and hard-to-come-by lifestyle goods, Working Title is a fantastic independent boutique with a well-stocked online store. Come here for brands like Autry, Edmmond Studios, Kings of Indigo, and wonderful gender neutral fragrances from Alvarez Gomez. If you’re a fan of buying once and buying well, make sure you take a look.
Best known for their vast range of body jewellery and equally impressive selection of fancy dress accessories, Beaujangles have been in Norwich since before I was born. On top of their much-loved alternative jewellery range, they also stock plenty of affordable everyday earrings and necklaces that are perfectly priced for a little ‘treat yourself’ moment that won’t leave you feeling buyer’s remorse.
If you like your jewellery a little more sleek and upmarket, but still don’t want to break the bank shopping for it, Studio Adorn should appeal. A wide range of rings, necklaces, earrings, bracelets and other items are available to buy online, all boasting a simple elegance that should help you feel instantly more put-together.
And finally… books
The Book Hive
Free postage and packaging while the store is closed, hand-picked self-isolation reading packs, and even book tabs: The Book Hive are determined to keep us all reading while we’re stuck inside, and collectively, we should all be determined to keep them, and other independent Norwich shops, open after the dust settles.
There’s a £10 lucky dip at the moment, as well as book packs for both adults and children to enjoy. Grab a mug, grab a membership, treat yourself! Ali Cottrell, who I mentioned earlier in this post, sells some great illustrations of The Book Hive – because it’s such a great place that it deserves to be celebrated.
Please do tell me if there’s anyone I’ve missed who you think should be included – the only requirement is that they’re a Norwich business, who you can currently order from online!