Independent stores, boutiques and vintage
Norfolk is full of lovely little market towns so you’ll never be stuck for somewhere to shop. Aylsham, Sheringham and Holt are good places to start in North Norfolk. If you’re in West Norfolk, Downham Market and King’s Lynn won’t let you down and in South Norfolk, Harleston, Diss and Wymondham are the places to be. If you fancy a more well-rounded shopping experience, Norwich has two shopping centres full of the usual high street chains, some quirky gift shops and a nice collection of places to eat, too.
Venture away from these and the old city has a different story to tell – you’ll be wowed by independent boutiques, the famous market and a huge choice of vintage shops. The Mall was the city’s first shopping centre and is built beneath the castle. It has a number of access points in the city centre as well as a multi-storey car park. You’ll find a range of affordable high street stores here, including a large TK Maxx. There’s also a food court at the top alongside an open grassy area that’s overlooked by the castle itself.
The newest shopping centre is Chapelfield, which was built in 2005. Here you’ll find an even wider range of shops. There’s an Apple Store for all your technology needs, plenty of clothes shops and a large House of Fraser that covers everything from fashion and beauty through to gadgets and toys. If you fancy seeing a bit more of Norwich’s culture and want to support local businesses, the Norwich Lanes can easily make up full day’s shopping trip. These old streets are chock full of beautiful little stores where you can pick up gifts, vintage goodies and homewares.
One of your first stops along the Lanes has to be the Book Hive. This is a traditional book shop set across three levels in an old building on London Street. Inside you’ll find all the usual best-sellers as well as local books, some quirky finds and a well-stocked children’s section. If you want to satisfy a sartorial need, head to Imelda’s Shoe Boutique. This quirky shop stocks women’s shoes from brands such as Irregular Choice, UGG, Vagabond, Fly London and more.
Quest Gifts on Exchange Street is a newer addition to The Lanes and is the perfect place to pick up trinkets and decorative objects from your trip. While in the city centre, it’s hard to miss the largest open-air market in Europe with its iconic striped canopies. At the back you’ll find vintage stalls such as Taxi and Nicky’s Vintage Clothing but wander through the stalls for shoes, bags, clothing, food and more.
Venture away from these and the old city has a different story to tell – you’ll be wowed by independent boutiques, the famous market and a huge choice of vintage shops
Marvellous markets and retro goods
Norwich market is the kind of place where the old and new meet. There are stalls run by the third and fourth generations of owners alongside brand new start-ups. This is the kind of place where you can buy a unique jacket, find a watch battery, get some shoes repaired and grab something to eat while you wait. The market runs alongside Gentleman’s Walk where you’ll find more high street fare for both men and women as well as places to stop off for a coffee or a bite to eat.
Nestled within the elegant Art Nouveau Royal Arcade just off Gentleman’s Walk is the Lady B Loves store, which sells beautiful, elegant womenswear. The Royal Arcade was built in 1899 and is now home to toy stores, galleries, eateries and clothing stores. There’s a lot of old charm down Magdalen Street in Norwich, too. You’ll find Asian markets for all your exotic food needs and there are plenty of textile shops that nod back to Norwich’s trade heritage.
For music lovers, you’ve got a range of options when it comes to record stores and two large vintage, rummage shops also call this street home, Looses and Aladdin’s Cave. You need to visit both if you love antiques and retro furniture. If vintage clothing is more your style, Retreat Vintage is just over the road from Looses. The shop might be small but it’s full of beautiful hand-picked items and you can’t help but notice the striking shop front that’s a perfect example of the owners’ style.
For all things Norwich, visit The Forum Shop which sells art, gifts and books that really capture the essence of Norfolk. If that’s not your style, there’s The Television and Movie Store opposite that will satisfy anyone’s geeky needs. If you’re looking for antiques, designer boutiques, gifts and seaside souvenirs, you must head to North Norfolk. You’ll be treated to lovely independent retailers such as Stiffkey Stores on the coast road in Stiffkey. Inside you’ll find a cafe that sells fantastic cake but also a range of books, home décor items and postcards, too.
If you fancy browsing for antiques and retro items, take a trip to Holt where you’ll find the 280-square metre showroom that is Holt Antiques and Interiors Centre, just off the main roundabout on Thornage Road. This eclectic mix of home furnishings, signs, decorative items, art and more, is fantastic to explore if you’re not sure what you’re looking for. It’s the kind of place where you can pick up a huge 80s neon sign and a Georgian dresser in the same room.
For music lovers, you’ve got a range of options when it comes to record stores and two large vintage, rummage shops also call this street home, Looses and Aladdin’s Cave
Designer goods and gifts
Holt is simply fantastic when it comes to fashion. For your designer fix, Francois Bouttier has you covered. Here you’ll find designer clothes from greats such as Cavalli, Moschino, Ash Footwear, MaxMara and more. If that’s not enough shopping for you, visit Susan Gillis Browne – one of the shops in the Appleyard area – which stocks a vast collection of magnificent Suzy Hamilton dresses, perfect for swishing out to dinner or dressing up for a special event.
Holt’s Appleyard is a beautiful area for shopping, dining and gifts. If you’re looking for a holiday read, the Holt Bookshop offers fiction and non-fiction from local authors but you’ll be able to pick up that international bestseller, too. For a fashion fix, visit Dragonfly, Fat Face and Spirit of the Andes, then stock your home with kitchen and homewares from Butler’s Pantry. If you want to mix a bit of shopping with lunch, a trip to the Art Café in Glandford ticks all the boxes. You can feast on varied vegetarian fare before browsing the shop, where you’ll be able to pick up locally-made jewellery, a piece of art for your wall and all sorts of other gifts, accessories and clothing.
Heading back to the coast, the seaside experience in Mundesley is enhanced by a few lovely little shops such as Jupe, which sells women’s clothing, and the Gallery, which stocks cards, gifts and art. Cromer is also well stocked with great shops including Lily B, another independent retailer selling women’s clothing. Inside you’re bound to find something no matter your age and style. Little Gems Rock Shop is also worth a visit if you’re in Cromer as it’s a great place to pick up fossils, crystals and jewellery. In West Norfolk, Downham Market is home to a number of markets, including plenty of collectibles and crafts. These are held on Fridays and Saturdays with rare exception and draw huge attention from all over the county but if you can’t make a market, visit the town for its range of independent shops and fabulous eateries.
King’s Lynn is another town with a history of fantastic markets and it has a large static retail offering, too. The Vancouver Quarter has recently undergone a refurbishment, bringing in new retailers and revitalising the whole town centre. This is where you’ll find the majority of shops in King’s Lynn but it’s also worth visiting the Tuesday and Friday markets as well. A short drive from King’s Lynn is Beers of Europe in Setchey. This is a great place to find a large range of international beers but there’s a lot on offer from Norfolk, too. A trip here is a great chance to pick up boozy gifts or to restock your own drinks cabinet.
For your designer fix, Francois Bouttier has you covered. Here you’ll find designer clothes from greats such as Cavalli, Moschino, Ash Footwear, MaxMara and more
Little towns, lots of shopping
The little town of Harleston in West Norfolk is a real joy when it comes to independent retailers and local shopkeepers who know their products inside out. Whatever you’re after, there’s someone who will be able to help you here. The town is also home to the Grain Brewery, so do pop into the beer shop if you’re looking for a delicious souvenir. Make sure to stop by on a Wednesday for the market that’s said to be 750 years old, and every third Saturday of the month you’ll find the Harleston Farmers’ Market which sells food grown within 20 miles of the town.
In Swaffham you’ll find a great range of little shops including the fun Henchmans game store. It’s a great place to take the kids or perhaps pick up some gifts for the little ones in your life but it’s also home to geeky memorabilia and card games. Head to the east coast and you’ll find Regent Street in Great Yarmouth, which is the place to be if you want some cheap and cheerful souvenirs to remind you of your time in Norfolk. Martyn’s Store – a family-run business that’s been going since 1957 – is the place to go for all sorts so if you want a fancy dress costume or a Steiff bear, you’re covered.
The Market Gates Shopping Centre in the seaside town is the destination for a spot of retail therapy from high street favourites. You can park here, too, so it’s a good way to start a day by the seaside. If you’re after interesting boutiques and curios, Yarmouth’s Victoria Arcade is a great place to pick up something special. The recently refurbished style gives a contemporary shopping experience without taking away from the traditional charm of a seaside town arcade.
Bargain shops can be found around the Broads with Lathams in Potter Heigham being the largest and most well known. It’s been serving customers for the past 30 years and is the place to visit if you want to pick up some fishing gear or browse for a bargain. There’s also a little cafe where you can recharge with a cup of tea and a sausage roll. Wroxham is another great stop on a shopping trip if you’re looking to pick up some bargains as it’s home to Norfolk department store, Roys. For the kids there’s a large toy department on the main street called Roys Toys with a children’s clothing store just behind it.
South Norfolk is home to the old market town of Diss and it really can boast about its history, with a market being held in the centre for more than 500 years. It’s set in the heart of the Waveney Valley and was established around one of the deepest natural inland lakes in the country. The town now holds regular farmers’ markets and flea markets in its centre and there are a host of other boutiques and shops dotted around. There are four courtyards in Diss that you should visit for all your shopping needs but if you’re pressed for time make sure you at least visit Cobb’s Yard and Norfolk House Yard. The former is home to a welcoming ladies’ boutique called Lily & Rose, while Norfolk House Yard features a number of food shops including Fredricks Fine Foods, which has an impressive deli.
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