10 of the best independent shops in York
york shambles

York is famous for its concentration of pubs, but did you know this medieval city is one of the most populous locations for independent shops and boutiques in the country too?

As well as being the dream of beer-lovers and history buffs, the picturesque city is fast becoming a shopping destination too.

As well as offering busy high-streets full of recognisable chains, here are some of the best independent outlets to be found within the city confines.

The Inkwell

A hipster’s paradise, The Inkwell is a small joint specialising in vinyl records and pop culture oddities. If you’re a fan of adding obscure artists to your record collection then The Inkwell, opened in 2011, is the place for you. Inside, you’ll find an old-school classroom vibe, with pulp fiction books and reissue vinyls displayed on school-room desks and chalky blackboards. Definitely worth a visit, hipster beard and all.

10 Gillygate, YO31 7EQ, 07846610777, theinkwell

Via Vecchia

Via Vecchia is a very popular, authentic Italian bakery nestled in the historic Shambles road. Immensely popular, you’ll have to be sure to get there bright and early if you want to catch the bakes of the day before any other hungry patrons. Offering everything from rustic loaves to artisan rolls to delightful cakes – if you happen to miss out on any of the fresh produce, try some of the local restaurants and cafés nearby, as Via Vecchia serves them too.

6 Shambles, YO1 7LZ, 01904627701, viavecchia

Fraser and May

A trip to York wouldn’t be complete without popping into Fraser and May. Set slightly away from the hustle and bustle of the city’s high street, this little store specialises in all things shabby chic. A quaint little outlet stocking a variety of unique gifts and designs ranging from furniture to jewellery to vintage prints. F & M also sports a dedicated wedding section, so if the big day is on the horizon, pop in for some gift inspiration.

9 Bridge Street, YO1 6DG, 01904626101,  fraserandmay

Red Cow Music

Sat in the heart of the ancient city centre, Red Cow Music is a folk store dedicated to the instruments associated with the likes of bluegrass and country. Sporting all the usual guitars and wind instruments, Red Cow also stocks things slightly less out-of-the ordinary, including a variety of squeezeboxes and bodhran percussion pieces. And look out for their Ukulele Festival in June.

13 Goodramgate, YO1 7LW, 01904674440, redcowmusic

Rafi’s Spicebox

The go-to-place for all fans of spicy cooking. The family-run business offers a vast selection of spices and ingredients necessary for creating delicious and authentic Indian curries in the comfort of your own home. Rafi’s Spicebox also offers specialist spice blends handmade by the staff, which can be bought and eaten on site. The popularity of Rafi’s has boomed, with a third store opening up in the nearby town of Harrogate in recent months. All testament to the great tasting produce made by the Rafi’s team.

17 Goodramgate, YO1 7LW, 01904430850, rafisspicebox


This quirky store specialises in contemporary home design, offering a wide selection of unique and interesting little additions for your home. Snowhome is great supporter of smaller manufacturers and up-and-coming product designers and stocks a great range of items that cannot be found anywhere else. If a healthy blend of contemporary and vintage is your vice, then Snowhome is certainly worth a visit.

42 Gillygate, YO31 7EQ, 01904671155, snowhome

Burgins’ Perfumery

Founded in 1880, Burgin’s has lost none of its soul in the many decades since it opened its doors. A truly unique shopping experience in a store which offers over 2,000 makes of perfume, from top-of-the range designer brands to individual businesses, for men and women. Although the setting may be an interesting step into the past, Burgin’s has lost none of its appeal in the 21st century.

2 Coney Street, Y01 9NA, 01904623137, burgins

According to McGee

This quirky little art gallery-meets-store is situated away from the busy city centre, finding itself amongst York’s historical Clifford’s Tower and Castle Museum areas. Featuring wondrous exhibits of local and national artists, this self-dubbed “Little White Cube” is a fantastic place for lovers of the art world.

8 Tower Street, YO1 9SA, 01904671709, accordingtomcgee

Monkbar Chocolatiers

Being one of the most popular and well-established chocolatiers in the a city that is known as the home of Rowntrees is no mean feat. It is one that Monkbar Chocolatiers have accomplished though and, rightly so. One of the only stores in York to entirely make and sell their own produce. This family run store specialises in delightful, hand-made chocolates, just be sure that you’re eyes aren’t bigger than you’re stomach.

7 Shambles, YO1 7LZ, 01904634999, monkbarchocolatiers

Yorkshire Soap Company & The Imaginarium

If you catch sweet summery aromas wafting through the air, it’s probably coming from the Yorkshire Soap Company. Split into two adjacent stores, the York branch of the YSC (the other being in the nearby Hebden Bridge), offers the most intoxicating mix of handmade soaps and bath salts, many made up to be exact copies of cakes and biscuits (just be sure not to eat any)! Next door couldn’t be more different. Although owned by the same folks, The Imaginarium resembles something out of Alice in Wonderland and is full of the most bizarre and interesting trinkets you could think of. Certainly one of the highlights of a shopping visit to the ancient city.

10 Blake Street, YO1 8QG, 01904655820, theimaginarium

A few more York tips…

10 of the best places for coffee in York
10 of the best restaurants in York for any budget
10 of the best bars in York

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Main image: Ray Morris / Flickr / CC