It’s all about getting those last-minute bits and bobs this weekend, so the family and I are all about town today. I was thinking I’d share a list of which Irish-owned and local shops I go to for specific things, because maybe you’re shopping too.
I try to shop in local shops as much as possible. First choice is a Cork-based business, second is an Irish-based business, third choice is an independent/family-owned small business anywhere in the world, and fourth is a non-Irish corporation or business. ‘Try’ is the operative word, it doesn’t always work, but when it does it feels good.
In an article by Evelyn Ring in the Irish Examiner, economist Jim Power is quoted as saying, “If you spend money in these local shops it is worth three times more to the local community. Every €100 spent in locally-owned shops results in an injection of €250 into the local economy,” So, shop local and enjoy personal service, beautiful items, and knowing your money is staying in your community.
For a hostess gift or when outfitting your new home, Home Square at 5D Cornmarket Shopping Centre, Cornmarket Street, Cork, (021-424 8689) is a must. Some furnishings, lighting, accent pieces, wall decor, clocks, and silk flower arrangements make this a good spot to find that certain piece what you’ll know when you see it. And they’re so helpful. My husband got my birthday gift here and they were great. In case you’re curious, it was a pink Eames-style chair to use at my [orange] desk. Much like HomeSense, there is a selection from wall art to toss pillows, but unlike HomeSense, you’ll find quirky things that give your home a one-of-a-kind vibe. I mean, where else can you find a patchwork Eames-style chair or a painting for a dog wearing headphones? I seriously love this place and finished my Christmas shopping there this week, so will have to write a whole post about it. UPDATE: I wrote a whole post about Home Square with pics of the shop’s interior.
With shops in Cork city and Killarney, Unbound at 5 Bridge Street, Cork, has a quaint tea room feel with things for the modern life. Those things we all need, but here they have more personality. I have found a few favorite things there, including a fair trade cotton poncho and a couple little kiddie gifts. They have a fabulous selection of teacups and mugs that give everyday tea a bit of pampering and personality. Like this mug Miles Apart mug that has Ireland on one side and New Zealand on the other, perfect for the expat you love (obviously, give it to them with a box of Barry’s). They also stock a selection of Kate Spade New York items, such as stationery and insulated tumblers. This Miss to Mrs. tumbler in particular is the perfect gift for your newly engaged friend. She can use it all the time, but quite useful on her wedding day when she needs to drink with a straw to keep her makeup pristine (and think of how cute it will be in the photos). Or give the mum in your life a locket, but with a modern look. So all the little bits and bobs sorted there!
With three sister shops in Cork City, Vibes & Scribes is a destination for arts and craft supplies (Bridge Street), second-hand books (Lavitt’s Quay), and new books and gifts (Lavitt’s Quay). In February 2015, Vibes & Scribes was awarded Retailer of the Year at the Cork Chamber of Commerce Awards. Vibes and Scribes is one-of-a-kind in Ireland as it focuses not just on one type of craft supply, but encompasses the wide range of DIY possibilities from millinery to sewing/quilting, fine painting and illustration to knitting and crochet, and beading to kid crafts. It is also one of Ireland’s largest sellers of DIY wedding supplies. And the shopping extends to an online store too. My picks for gifts from Vibes & Scribes would be Manos del Uraguay lace yarn for a knitter/crocheter, a jelly roll or fat quarter bundle for your favorite quilter, or a gift certificate to give the gift of choice.
The Kilkenny Shop at Emmet Place or in Douglas will offer you a selection of gifts and the convenience of shipping if you so desire. Their customer care is lovely and their stock is proof of their promotion of Irish design for 50 years. Though the shop carries lesser known artists and designers, you can also seek out the big names, such as Avoca, Orla Kiely, Stephen Pearce, Newbridge, Jill Graham, Louis Mulcahy, Belleek, Ulster Weavers, Absolute, Cath Kidston, Aran Woollen Mills, and Chupi. Gift picks that stood out to me on a recent visit to the Cork shop would be the Stephen Pearce Medium Barrel Vase for a hostess gift, filled with fresh flowers, of course. The Absolute Rose Gold Necklace for the woman who brings sparkle to your life. For a delicate statement, the Small Dusk Necklace by Jill Graham is a winner. It reminds me of a starry version of the necklace in Love Actually. At my home, we use the Stephen Pearce Bread Dish beside the hob to hold our bottle of olive oil and salt grinder.
Based at 27a St. Patrick’s Woollen Mills, Douglas, Cork Craft & Design is a centre of excellence, bringing together the very best of Cork’s unique and excellent craft and art work. A cooperative-style business, their inventory is sourced from actual artists, not warehouses. Their members include ceramicists, jewellers, textile workers, furniture makers, woodturners and carvers, paper and felt makers, sculptors, and many more.
With a long history on North Main Street, Bradley’s Off-Licence is a local institution. A family business since 1850, Bradley’s is somewhat of a Cork institution, currently run by the fourth generation in the person of Michael Creedon (son of Mary Bradley). The shop sells beer, wine, and spirits, but also minerals, milk, Cork meats, Irish cheeses, breads, crackers, crisps, sweets, chocolates, and newspapers. And more. They pride themselves on personal service in an increasingly faceless retail world. Michael’s focus and passion on coming into the business was centred on wine – he is a holder of a Diploma from the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET), as well as being a member of the prestigious Champagne Academy. Their wine range reflects many of his personal favourites and wines they are happy to stand recommend. That passion now extends to the full off-licence range. Craft beer from Ireland’s micro-breweries and across the world take pride of place as they love to sell “real beer with real flavour”. They currently have in the region of 500 beers and it continues to grow. They have an extensive “top shelf” of Irish and international whiskies and other spirits & liqueurs with a special emphasis on the more unusual and “hard to find”. Currently, they are adding to their food range and in a bid to mirror their quality off-licence range they are sourcing the best of local, Irish produce. I love their selection of Irish preserves and honey. For the foodie friend or hostess or the beer/wine lover, this is the spot. They also have a fab selection of Irish gins!
Handcrafted in a garden studio setting close to the centre of cork, David Chocolatier makes chocolates in small batches with passion for the craft. With close attention to detail, the chocolates are skillfully crafted in a range of chocolate products from bars to dips, unique individual handbags, shoes, mouthwatering chocolates with seasonal fillings. From the studio, the chocolates are delivered to David’s chocolate shop in the English Market (1st on Right from Princes Street) and to other good food shops around the City. I personally love that they also sell artisan chocolates from other chocolatiers in Ireland.
The list does not stop there, here are more shops which keep your business local, but you know spending here will not only help you go home with the perfect gift, but it makes a measurable different and positive impact on a local business. So, shop local.
I know this list is far from complete, so please comment with your favorites and, over time, I’ll add to this post!