Shopping: Spending time in Yorkshire

Spendthrift goes to Leeds
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Indy Lifestyle Online
Leeds is without doubt a thriving northern city, well into a period of regeneration that's seen the city grow in affluence and stature. A great club scene and flourishing designer market have also earnt it the title of "hippest city in England", and it has recently been "chosen" by Harvey Nicks. But while thumbing its nose at well-worn myths about spending power in the north, Leeds has kept its feet firmly on the ground. A detour through the decidedly unprosperous Calls area, south of Boar Lane, will cause any visitor to do the same.

The city centre boasts one of the largest areas of pedestrianisation in England, and is extremely shopper-friendly. You're never far from a decent cafe for a bit of a sit down, and car parks are plentiful, though they fill up quickly. There are four staple shopping centres, including the rather down-at-heel Merrion and the improved Headrow centre. To get a taste of the New Leeds though, head for the beautifully restored arcades of the Victoria Quarter, The Corn Exchange and Granary Wharf (permanent shops and stalls), which is tucked down behind the station by the Leeds- Liverpool canal and really comes to life at the weekend.

Harvey Nichols, The Victoria Quarter (0113-204 8888)

Part "international lifestyle store", part local attraction, this is the icing on Leeds' designer cake. The huge crowds contain a core of well- heeled ladies obviously relieved not to have to trek down to London for their Ferretti or their Jean Muir. The building's definitely stylish, but it feels rather small, especially in the food market on the fourth floor, where most of the actual buying was going on. One lady in particular, who thought it would be "all nice sausages and that", wasn't impressed. "Might as well go to Tescos," she said.

Music

Knock on Wood Global Music Supplies Granary Wharf (0113-242 9146)

The first permanent shop to open in the Wharf - in 1988 - is a World Music extravaganza. There are Djembe drums (pounds 150 - pounds 270), a Gambian Balafon at pounds 45, Didjeridus from pounds 135 and lots of smaller wood and wind instruments. Everything in here produces sound, even the token box of Whoopie cushions!

Jumbo Records, St John's Centre (0113-245 5570)

A good, popular independent and one of the few that could still be called a "record shop". It has a pretty useful vinyl section as well as an excellent jazz CD section. Jumbo has managed to keep its CD prices competitive: chart and new releases average pounds 13.99 (the new REM album is pounds 12.99).

Specialist Shops

Kirkgate Stamp Co, 30 County Arcade, Victoria Quarter (0113-245 5404)

When it started 25 years ago, the business was strictly stamps. Having diversified, it would now rather be known as the Leeds collector's shop. It deals in militaria (Indian dagger circa 1800 at pounds 40), coins, medals and cigarette cards. There's a neatly catalogued and varied postcard collection, and a medal-mounting service.

id Aromatics, 12 New Station Street (0113-242 4983)

One of the first specialist wholesale and retail aromatherapy businesses in the country, stocking over 100 essential oils (camphor, pounds 1.60, to valerian, pounds 9.50 for 10ml), as well as exotic and perfume oils, and their own blends (Zodiac at pounds 2.50). They often stock unusual and "limited edition" oils too. Qualified aromatherapist Carolyn Swain is on hand to offer free advice and a mixing service to order, for a tiny charge of 35p.

The Condom Shop, Corn Exchange (0113-244 6532)

It's a sad fact that Brits have a hard time with rubbers. It seems quite appropriate that for a nation of titterers, a condom-come-joke shop should provide a safe space for buying. As well as the usual brands you'll find Glow in the Dark Ticklers (pounds 2.25 for one), and Topaz, the revolutionary new condom at pounds 4.99 for six. Alongside these are plenty of rudy games like "Bonk", phallic candles (pounds 4.99) and sweet willies.

Jewellery

Craft Centre and Design Gallery, City Art Gallery, The Headrow (0113- 247 8241)

Selected by the Crafts Council, the Gallery has been going for 15 years and specialises in displays of contemporary jewellery by British designers, currently showing designs in silver, white metal and bronze. The atmosphere is un-fussy, and the works are not just exhibition pieces. Prices range from pounds 10 all the way up to pounds 5,500.

Food and Drink

The Tripe Shop, Leeds City Market (0113-244 0436)

The sale of tripe is still going strong, and here you'll get other food stuffs that can't be found at Tesco, or any branch of Harvey Nicks for that matter. Tripe is only 26p a quarter, and maws, or mouth parts, are 28p. Other delicacies are chitterlings (pig intestines) and elder (udders).

Beer Paradise, Granary Wharf (0113-242 9572)

A shop for adventurous beer drinkers stocking over 700 varieties from around the world, including Russian and Indonesian. There are about 350 Belgian beers, like Duval, hailed as the "best beer in the world" (pounds 1.49). They also sell Whiskey Beer and Tea Beer. Green Beer, which is completely natural, is brewed to a 17th-century recipe, and contains nearly 20 herbs and spices (also pounds 1.49). Visit Paradise and find yourself in hops heaven.

Gifts and Accessories

Spunky Monkey, 97 Briggate

(0113-244 0701)

After the promise of the name and bright green exterior, the substance of Spunky Monkey is essentially run of the mill miscellany: candles, mobiles, incense etc. Oh and wood, lots of wood. It's a menagerie of carved animals, from the tiniest mouse to a pair of life-sized Alsatians. A place to visit if you need a gift for a friend with one of those pig or cat obsessions.

Clothes

Leeds is blessed with branches of all the main high-street retailers (C&A, Bhs, Debenhams, Next). Designer frenzy is reflected in the high proportion of exclusive boutiques (Aspects, Olivers), most of which are in the Victoria Quarter. You don't have to look far to find Karen Millen, Paul Smith or Ted Baker. However, there are some whorthwhile alternatives.

Exit, The Corn Exchange

(0113-246 9301)

A clothes and accessories shop for serious snow and skateboarders, where baggy rules over skimpy and everything has a label. A Pervert, or Simmer Style T-shirt is pounds 25, plus a wide selection of Oakley Thermo-nuclear Protection. For those who need to be cool, but warm.

Grin, The Corn Exchange

(0113-246 7470)

Religion streetwear "for movers and groovers". Flower-power love shirts for pounds 24, ex-HM Prison orange (naturally) T-shirts with obligatory star are only pounds 4.99, and guaranteed to cling. New and second-hand flack trousers from pounds 10.

Bookshops

Mr Miles Antiquarian Bookshop

12 Great George Street

(0113-245 5327)

Mr Miles has been around since 1870. It's quite spacious and has a fitting "old library" feel to it. As well as a lot of second-hand and good bargain books, they also keep rare, antiquarian and collectors books. Prices obviously vary, but a signed, extremely limited edition of Dylan Thomas's In Country Sleep costs pounds 1,000.

Leeds Tourist information 0113-242 5242

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