Shopping with... Rita Britton: Nothing like the local shops

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Indy Lifestyle Online
Pollyanna in Barnsley, South Yorkshire, has, since 1969, been home to top designer labels which today include Comme des Garcons, Jil Sander and Yohji Yamamoto. Owner Rita Britton naturally never shops for clothes anywhere else. "I'm lucky I sell what I like, so all my clothing is taken care of."

Britton is champion of the local Barnsley shops. "In a small town everything is round the corner so we're spoiled." Britton's local florist, Hartisan (21 The Arcade tel: 01226 288588) is a mere 30 seconds away from Pollyanna, and is used both as her home and her shop. "You wouldn't believe there'd be a fantastic florist in Barnsley, but there is!" laughs Britton. "They do amazing arrangements wrapped up in big raffia bows."

At Barnsley Market, (May Day Green), she visits the antique stalls on Tuesdays to hunt out Victorian white bed linen sheets, "still tied up with blue ribbon because nobody's ever used them". At the local Design Centre (11 Shambles Street, tel: 01226 771133), Britton recently bought an "amazing" coffee table for her husband from a furniture exhibition held there.

The local shop that Britton is most thankful for is the dry cleaners, Springbox (1 Peel Arcade, tel: 01226 286897). "It was a godsend when they opened about five years ago. Before then it was a nightmare finding a dry cleaners in the North of England that knew how to care for the clothes I sell, instead of just bunging them in. Now it's nice to be able to recommend somewhere to my customers, and they do a repair service there too."

Usually Britton tends to buy her food from the local market and declares: "Barnsley has the best fresh fish market in the country!" An adamant hater of processed foods and supermarkets, she buys venison sausages and pies from Elmhurst's stall in there. For special occasions Britton likes to order food in. "If I need food in excess I have a hamper delivered, full of fantastic ice- packed food like venison and even lobster soup from Scottish Gourmet [Thistle Mills, Station Road, Biggar, ML12 6LP, tel: 01899 221001]. They've never let me down in four years now."

Obviously, Britton does leave her hometown sometimes. Work often takes her to London, Milan and Paris, but for pleasure, she can be found shopping for Georgian goblets at the open market antique fair in Newark.

"I love wine. I drink it every evening and these goblets fit about two glasses' worth. They are beautiful." The Gordon Reece Gallery in Knaresborough (Finkle Street, Knaresborough, North Yorkshire, tel: 01423 866219) is a particular Pollyanna favourite place to buy exotic antique artifacts. Britton "has a great passion" for 250-year-old tapestries from there which she puts against the "very simple white walls" in her home. She appreciates the service. "Gordon spends three months a year travelling looking for things. He's a great guy. It doesn't matter how much you're spending even if you are just buying a pair of earrings - he always has time to explain their history to you."

Another place that Britton insists is worth driving an hour out of Barnsley for is Bettys Cafe Tea Rooms in Harrogate (1 Parliament Street, Harrogate, North Yorkshire, HG1, tel: 01423 502746). "They make all their own teas and coffees and bake everything in their own bakeries. I know it seems mad to drive for an hour for a cake but it can be really relaxing to drive to places and Bettys is a must stop."

Pollyanna, 14-16 Market Hill, Barnsley, South Yorkshire, tel: 01226 291665