If I had a quid for every time I said out loud what a hectic year 2020 has been, I’d have enough money to buy petrol for a round trip to Barnard Castle to test my eyesight and have a bit left over to enjoy a substantial meal of a scotch egg with a pint after.
Unfortunately, Bristol remains in tier 3, meaning I can’t do either of those things.
While tier 3 does mean that many non-essential shops can open their doors after the second national lockdown ended, it’s small comfort for those independent retailers who were already struggling following months of national restrictions.
Where you shop matters, especially in a year like this. Here, we celebrate a small selection of our favourite independent Bristol businesses, as chosen by the Seeker team.
Our first local indie retailer was selected by Campaign Executive, Chizi. She has since moved on to work for the wonderful charity Chwarae Teg, but not before recommending this gorgeous local plant shop: Selva Plants.
Based in Bristol and 100% independent, Selva Plants sells a number of lush green goodies, from soft succulents to retro spider plants.
Image Selva Plants
Founded by green-fingered dance theatre artists Delicia and Sam, Selva Plants is about plants with passion—its selection runs the gamut of funky flora, from classic cacti and aloe vera to more esoteric offerings like bonsai ginseng and alocasia Polly.
Keep an eye out for their calathea ornata, a wide-leafed perennial with flashes of pastel pink against the green! We’re all about wellness at Seeker, and this is the perfect plant to create a wholesome home office vibe.
Best of all, they do free local delivery in Bristol and Bath! Enter the code LOCAL at checkout to get your plants delivered safely and snugly before Christmas.
Guys, you know you better watch out—some Seekers are only about That Thing, a unique little clothing store in the heart of Stokes Croft.
The indie retailer formerly known as Shop Dutty has called Bristol its home since 2008, and from the beginning, founder Joh Rindom embraced the local indie arts and craft industry.
Image That Thing
Originally curating products from just seven local designers, today That Thing stocks tees, dresses, accessories, jewellery, and more from over 50 designers, artists, and craftspeople. Each product feels utterly unique—a far cry from the high street, and there’s even a dedicated Eco Edit for the eco-minded shoppers amongst you.
A pivotal part of Stokes Croft’s transformation over the past decade, That Thing sits on the corner of Hillgrove St and Stokes Croft proper. It’s open six days a week, so you’ve still got plenty of time to buy a present for your impossibly cool, impossible-to-buy-for younger sister.
Is there anything nicer than receiving a card in the post? What seemed pointless to us as children (if it didn’t have a Power Rangers badge on it, I didn’t give it a second look) is now an eagerly-anticipated joy.
Of course, in this age of environmentalism, the act of sending a card can be tinged with guilt. With vast swathes of the rainforest getting razed down every day, sending a card has become a more complex thing.
Not so with Ricicle Cards!
Chosen by our SEO Executive Becky, Ricicle Cards is a Clevedon-based brand launched by David Nichols-Rice, who perfectly articulates the joy of giving and receiving a card: “I love the feel of cards—the luxury, the fine detail and, ultimately, the power and love behind the message.”
Image Ricicle Cards
Ricicle Cards fully embraces a green ethos with its products, and it’s part of the reason why Becky chose the brand. In her own words:
“I love them because he works with great designers to create beautiful unique designs and is playing to the trend of buying quality over quantity and being environmentally aware. All his cards are FSC certified and all packaging is fully recyclable and all printed in the UK. I’ve never known anyone so passionate about paper and foils.”
Not only is Ricicle Cards proudly green in its materials and packaging, but it also prints each card in England, with GF Smith papers from the Lake District to reduce its carbon footprint.
Sure, sending a card is nice, but sending a card with Ricicle? That’s twice as nice-icle.
Helen Lucy Studio
Bristol is a thriving creative hub for the arts and culture scene of the UK, with the likes of Massive Attack and Banksy bringing it worldwide recognition.
But Bristol is also home to countless local artists who draw upon and are influenced by the rich culture, beauty, and nuances of the city—artists like Helen Lucy, freelance illustrator and graphic designer.
Helen’s art perfectly captures those little facets of Bristol that we take for granted, especially after having lived here for a long time.
Her work features snapshots of the city lovingly captured in a mix of paint, pencil, collages, and digital: Harbourside with the burning summer sun low in the sky, curious foxes scampering down Picton Street at 2am, and even Ursa, the iconic Bearpit bear, all forming the backdrop to our own memories of our lives in Bristol.
After this trainwreck of a year, it’s important to remind ourselves of the reasons why we fell in love with this city in the first place—and Helen’s artwork is the perfect spark to reignite that flame. This Christmas, treat yourself to a postcard or two for your WFH office and throw supporting a local artist into the bargain (or pop into her sustainable business hub, Future Leap Cafe & Deli on Gloucester Road, for a chat and some local artisan treats!).
BAM Store + Space
For some people, buying gifts for loved ones is easy. They instantly know what their recipients will love this Christmas, perhaps even keeping a list throughout the year in an outrageous display of careful planning and good sense.
But for most of us, the process is a chore. No matter how long you’ve known someone or how close you are, when it comes to Christmas, you might as well be buying for a stranger.
Enter BAM Store + Space.
Chosen by Digital Copywriter Verity, BAM Store + Space is a non-profit indie selling everything from clothing and jewellery to art and vinyl, all as striking and impactful as its name promises. In her own words, Verity says:
“It’s a treasure trove of quirky bits and pieces, lots of beautiful crafts from local artists, and some really unique kids toys as well. I always find amazing little gifts in there.”
Image BAM Store + Space
Stocked with a dizzying variety of books, games, stationery, homeware, accessories, art, and more, BAM is as far away from the generic high street fare as you could imagine.
Has your housemate suddenly discovered a love for puzzles during lockdown? Treat them to an Andy Warhol double-sided puzzle.
Is your boyfriend a die-hard Stapletonian? Get them this Eighties Beeb-inspired BS5 t-shirt.
Got a new little niece or nephew out of 2020? Crinkly cloth books are a thing and they need one.
BAM Store + Space is situated in the heart of Easton and open six days a week, including weekends—perfect for last-minute Christmas shoppers.
Now more than ever, where you shop matters. Even with a vaccine being rolled out, a return to any semblance of normality is a long way off, and indie businesses still face many more months of struggle. So, whether it’s for Christmas or all year round, shop local.