Independent Boutiques and Markets are Brilliant in Cambridge

Support the high street : Cambridge Fabric Company
Support the high street : Cambridge Fabric Company
Fatface shopping street and University of Cambridge
Fatface shopping street and University of Cambridge

Support the high street and shop local!

Unless firms in the UK have been selling food or pharmaceutical products and other vital supplies this year has been very challenging time indeed commercially, for almost everyone in this “nation of shopkeepers”. In England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland all the non-essential retail businesses have experienced a government directed lockdown this Spring.

Several counties across the British Isles and beyond are having to close their doors again this season. This is because of government ordered coronavirus restrictions, aimed at curbing a second wave of infection that could otherwise overwhelm our health services.

As individual customers supporting our town centres across the country is important to providing local jobs. The taxes on the products we buy provide revenue for the local economy which also gives funding to our community services.

You may be lucky enough to be able to take a road trip for a change of scene. Staying in a hotel in Cambridge is recommended. Walking from your accommodation and popping into a few of the independent boutiques on the way to the historic Market Square is a joy. You can read our previous articles on Where To Stay for a Budget Cost Minibreak in Cambridge plus also Cool Places to Go in Cambridge without Breaking the Bank and check out The Best Big Store Shopping in Central Cambridge

Cambridge market square
Cambridge market square

Vintage and second hand shopping is great for those with limited budgets who are looking for an alternative to fast fashion. Conserving the environment and discovering the delights of unexpected treasures along the way is positive too. Therefore we are going to champion seeking out these sustainable havens first. Many charity shops also have their own brands of new items for sale. These ranges are developed ‘in house’ and make kind ‘gifts that make a difference’. Therefore it is worth checking them out for purchasing your next outfit, or getting ahead of the game with stocking up on Christmas cards and supplies.

The Arthur Rank Hospice Shop in Regent Street raises money for a local cause that supports terminally ill people across Cambridgeshire. (1) It is situated next to Cancer Research which is another English charity doing amazing work during a very challenging time. (2)

It is not appropriate for everything to be bought in thrift shops. If you want something personal and new, or there was nothing in your size donated this week, it is time to head for the high street. Many of the most interesting privately owned outlets can be found on the roads leading from the city’s hub.

Cambridge Futon Company shop window display with seating
Cambridge Futon Company shop window display with seating

Established companies such as the Futon Company offer British design and a personal customer service. A chance to view and sit on their products up close in a way that online furniture shopping can never replicate. They also offer delivery throughout the UK and their range is great value with some handsome designs too. “Autumn is officially here and with it comes a whole lot of new kit!” say the small space storage experts at the Futon Company. (3)

If you can afford to “Buy less and buy better” it is an excellent phrase to remember. This mantra was created by Vivienne Westwood Vivienne Westwood who is knowledgable in both fashion and green consumerism. It is the upmarket branded boutiques in Cambridge that can offer something special. The new lifestyle collection at Lilac Rose is full of pretty colours and it is very refreshing to see new premises opening up around the country. Whistles, Superdry, Levis, Hobbs, Monsoon, and Joules are all well worth a visit. There is also a Bang & Olufsen for serious audio enthusiasts.

The general marketplace is where “Stalls have been trading at the historic Market Square in the city centre since the middle ages.” The wide plaza is where brightly coloured stall holders have sold their wares for centuries. The cobble stone paving and array of delicacies and crafted products all carefully displayed by their small business owners gives a wonderful atmosphere to the area. Framed by handsome Gothic, neo-Gothic and classical architecture, this is one big traditional market not to be missed. Buskers playing a wide variety of music accompany the bustling trading event at every corner. This live music adds to the positive experience for shoppers buying merchandise from the local fair. (4)

Cambridge University Gothic Architecture
Cambridge University Gothic architecture

Just off the historic Market Square on Peas Hill is where the Cambridge Fabric Company can be found. This beautiful store sells rolls of interior fabrics by the meter and their sales literature describes their “bespoke made to order service makes curtains, blinds and soft furnishings offering a high quality, hand finished service at affordable prices.” There is a small queue of people patiently waiting to enter the pretty period property.

We have been really busy since we reopened” said the manageress softly. They specialise in displaying British designs. If you dream about crafting your own home and wearing totally unique garments then the Cambridge Fabric Company run classes throughout the year on several types of fashion dressmaking and home furnishings. (5)

On Sundays there is an arts and crafts market. A short walk north to Trinity Street is where All Saints’ Garden Art and Craft Market can be found on Trinity Street every Saturday and some weekdays too. “Vendors sell organic produce from local farmers and work from some of the region’s most talented artists, craftsmen, potters, sculptors and photographers.” state Cambridge City Council. (4)

A lot of upmarket outfitters are welcoming personal appointments on request where you can effectively book your own showroom with a sales advisor at a convenient time. Fitting rooms are available at Jigsaw and other brands on a minimised basis. Most companies have upgraded their returns policies so you can get a refund if something doesn’t fit or didn’t match your outfit when you returned home to try it out.

Jigsaw is a British owned independent chain of shops that has been on the best high streets since 1970 which means they are celebrating their 50th anniversary. “Creatively, the Autumn Winter 2020 collection is inspired by weekends on the coast; colours of beautiful tidal scenery and prints are reminiscent of eclectic English interiors.” This means you can invest in an unusual print, stylish and warm jumper or a classic piece of Italian suiting that can be dressed up or down for any occasion. (6)

We hope you have an opportunity to browse around this brilliant educational county. We found that everyone on the streets and inside the venues we visited were wearing masks and adhering carefully the the latest guidance on keeping safe to minimise the spread of Covid-19.

Please check out the latest government regulations on travelling around the UK. Cambridgeshire sits in the Tier 1 ‘medium’ alerts level this week but caution should be remembered to be safely spaced when in public buildings as cases in this area continue to rise.

We wish you all happy shopping, keep safe and continue to enjoy supporting our independently owned stores in our high streets nationwide.


(1) ‘Supporting You’ Arthur Rank Hospice Charity, 24 October 2020 Arthur Rank Hospice Charity

(2) ‘Together we will beat cancer’ Cancer Research UK, 24 October 2020 Cancer Research Shop

(3) ‘Experts in small space living’ The Futon Company, 24 October 2020 The Futon Company

(4) ‘Markets’ Cambridge City Council, 24 October 2020 ‘Markets’ Cambridge City Council

(5) ‘Workshops’ The Cambridge Fabric Company, 24 October 2020 ‘Workshops’ The Cambridge Fabric Company

(6) ‘Autumn’ Established 1970, Jigsaw, 24 October 2020 ‘Autumn’ Jigsaw shop