Sheffield may seem small scale in the grand scheme of things but it packs a punch when it comes to creativity and innovation. In a city of just 730 158 people, there is a thriving independent business scene, supported by the local council and small business initiatives.
Where this becomes most apparent to the casual visitor, or indeed resident, is in the retail sector. Sheffield is seriously ambitious when it comes to fostering a healthy high street and is well known for creating a buzz amongst those with their finger firmly on the pulse in fashion and food circles. It’s also a bustling centre for culture, boasting independent cinemas, theatres and the annual Sheffield Doc/Fest.
Whilst other entertainment sectors like opera, sport and casinos are less well catered for in the city, the free city WiFi allows you to keep up to date with these areas through sites like Opera Vision, PokerStars Casino and Sky Sports. All you need do is grab yourself a coffee and settle in to one of the many indie cafés on offer to plug in and catch up.
Speaking of which, why not sit back and relax right now as you browse through these cherry picked small businesses of Sheffield?
If good grub is your first love then look no further than these twinned cafés located in the city centre on Fitzwilliam Gate. The Cabin famously serves waffles, coffee and, of course, their delicious pancakes in a Rocky Mountains-themed interior, whilst sister establishment Wildwood focuses on French toast a little further down the road. Wildwood’s forest theme contrasts nicely with the wooden décor at The Cabin but both places offer a quirky approach to casual dining. There’s also the chance to take a little piece of North American magic home with you as both cafés also feature small gift shops stuffed with Canadian maple syrup, homemade soaps and highly recommended books.
If you’re looking for the ingredients to make your own stand-out dishes at home, then look no further than these two businesses. Beanies sells everything you need for a healthy lifestyle from fruit and veg to locally produced baked goods to vegan and veggie alternatives. They also offer an organic box scheme for those whose busy schedule doesn’t leave them time for the weekly shop. New Roots offers a similar service, including produce from their own community run garden and a pedal-powered delivery option for their organic boxes. Both companies are deeply involved with the local community and New Roots is run entirely by volunteers, whereas Beanies operates as a workers co-op.
Given Sheffield’s strong art scene, it comes as no surprise that gift shop MoonKo is incredibly popular with emerging artists attempting to promote their own work. It has become the perfect platform for customers to discover new artists whilst they pick up gifts for friends and loved ones. Prints, cushions, ceramics, clothing and accessories all feature heavily here and you’re guaranteed to pick up something truly unique whilst browsing the shelves. Frankly My Deer takes this idea and runs with it, handing over small rented spaces to the artists themselves so that they are in control of their own displays and stock. It is essentially a market within a shop’s footprint, staffed by the owner but stocked by the artists. Another great place to find something kooky and off the cuff.
This shop is conspicuous through its seeming lack of online presence; whereas most businesses now have a slick website to advertise through, Kelham Island Books and Music relies on word of mouth, drop ins and yes, ok, social media as well. It is a proper old fashioned bookstore though, with the emphasis on analogue and physical items rather than digital. Here you’ll find a fantastic collection of second-hand books, vinyl records and artwork at reasonable prices – plus, it’s a dream to browse through their stock as the space is crammed full of treasure without feeling overcrowded. If you’re used to ordering all of your entertainment from Amazon or other online retailers, then treat yourself to a visit to this hidden gem.
Across the world, one of the most popular items to shop for is undoubtedly shoes. Whether you’re looking for something practical or to wear for your next night out on the town, Sheffield has you covered. Noble & Wylie craft high quality footwear from both animal leather and vegan materials, creating hard wearing sandals, boots and shoes for everyone. They even offer two different types of vegan leather, showcasing their commitment to providing the right shoe for every customer. All shoes are handmade in Sheffield by their experienced team and because they’re made to order, they’re certain to be the perfect fit.