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Growing a Business

Retailing Off the Beaten Track: 15 Independent Businesses Making Quieter Locations Work


It’s a common belief that independent businesses in busy urban areas perform better than independent businesses in smaller towns. However, this is not always the case; even with a larger population urban independent businesses face drawbacks due the stronger economic structure of a city.

On the other hand, businesses that are slightly off the beaten track have the advantage of being a part of a small community. This means they're able to network with other local businesses, connect with their community and build lasting relationships with their customers.

We’ve gathered up 15 independent businesses in locations with lower footfall across the UK, Ireland and the US that have become an essential feature of the local landscape.


1. Bell, Book & Candle bellbookandcandle

Location: Stewarton, Scotland

This independent home interiors shop is located in the town of Stewarton, East Ayrshire. While they stock cosy scented candles, welcoming decorations and more, their trichromatic interior made up of blues, greys and whites bring a touch of modernity to the small town. Bell Book and Candle also hosts events for the opportunity to connect with their local community.



2. Halo Unlimited 


Location: Dundee, Scotland

Located in the seaside town of Brought Ferry, Dundee, Halo Unlimited is a lively shop with playful and colourful designs. Their vibrant designs are inspired by many different cultures, such as Morocco, India, Indonesia, and Scotland, to bring a bit of uniqueness to their quaint town.



3. Contempo


Location: Stirling, Scotland

Contempo guarantees to only source products that have been made in the UK. Their mission is to pay a living wage to their local suppliers for their dedication to their work. Contempo ensures their customers are receiving only the highest quality products, most of which have been produced only a stone’s throw away from their location in the town of Stirling. 



4. Judith Glue 


Location: Orkney, Scotland

Judith Glue is one of many independent stores Judith Glue herself has owned since she was 18 years old. Her current self-titled indie shop is predominantly a clothing and accessories store, selling beautiful handmade Orkney sweaters produced by Judith, her daughter, and makers on neighbouring islands. Customers can also grab a meal from the Real Food Cafe, situated in the back of the store, which strives to use only locally sourced and highest standard produce



5. Home by Tea 


Location: Southwell, England

Home by Tea is a colourful interior design and lifestyle boutique located in the heart of Southwell, England, a short distance from Nottingham. Their eccentric and fun decor add a bit of quirky charm to the Southwell community. They also offer an interior design service to style a piece of furniture, a room, or a house from top to bottom!



6. Emporium Worthing


Location: Worthing, England

Emporium Worthing is a destination for any tourist taking a day trip to see Warwick Castle. This little boutique in Warwickshire is notable for their vintage designer clothing and accessories, as well as a mix of eclectic homeware. In addition to their vintage collection, Emporium Worthing includes a bar that serves alcohol, coffee, tea, cakes and soft drinks.



7. Eticaboutique


Location: Salisbury, England

Another great stop for tourists, Eticaboutique is located only 9 miles south of Stonehenge in Salisbury, Wiltshire. Eticaboutique takes its name from the Italian translation of ‘etica’, meaning ethical. All of their products are eco-friendly, right down to the packaging, being fully recyclable.



8. Acorn & Pip


Location: Slaithwaite, England

This children’s store offers only sustainably made products that have been safely tested and made from organic materials without child labour. Acorn & Pip features an in-store play space for kids with toys, games and more. The store also includes a cafe serving exclusively vegan and vegetarian fare from locally sourced products.



9. Florence and Fox 


Location: Liverpool, England

Florence and Fox is an indie craft and gift shop offering locally made products in a bright and airy environment. Along with their handmade gifts, barista coffee, speciality teas and cakes will soon be a part of their collection. They also invite the community to participate in their in-store crafting classes and workshops, led by local makers.


10. Coastal Remedy 


Location: Southsea, England

Nestled in the popular Southsea resort in beautiful seaside Portsmouth, Hampshire, Coastal Remedy is a wellness and lifestyle shop. Owner of the peaceful store, Becky, founded Coastal Remedy with the intent of helping people find happiness and wellbeing through a balanced lifestyle.



11. Finders Keepers


Location: Waterford, Ireland

Finders Keepers brings a taste of the land down under to this humble town in southeast Ireland. Their quirky and colourful homeware is inspired by the shop-owners journey through Perth, Australia. Their collections also take inspiration from Scottish and English finds, with products sourced from over sixty independent designers across the UK.



12. The Wilds


Location: Enniscorthy, Ireland

All of The Wilds’ products are sustainably sourced and Earth-friendly. Their shop, located in a former convent in Enniscorthy, Ireland, features a wide assortment of products, including new and vintage furniture, handcrafted homewares and lifestyle collections. The Wilds also boasts an award winning cafe that serves quality produce and artisan beverages from local producers.



13. Chalk and Easel 


Location: Ballinspittle, Ireland

Chalk and Easel is a family-owned business, run by Emily Connell and her dog Sam. They source products from independent makers in the Republic of Ireland, the UK and Europe. Emily ensures all the items in her shop are made with natural, environmentally friendly materials, in accordance with fair trade production methods. 



14. Read Between the Lynes


Location: Woodstock, Illinois, US

This indie bookstore located in the northwest suburbs of Chicago is a staple in their local community. Read Between the Lynes hosts community events, in-store and in the community. They also host five different book clubs for people of all ages to participate in. Not only are they caring for their customers, Read Between the Lynes partners with other local businesses to support each other.



15. Poppy Handmade


Location: Columbia, Missouri, US 

Poppy Handmade is located in the heart of central Missouri and carries a range of gifts, jewelry and lifestyle products. Each week, they feature weekly exclusive collections by local artisans. Poppy Handmade also plays an active role in their community by hosting frequent classes with local artisans.


Final thoughts

While independent businesses in urban areas receive higher foot traffic and revenues, in the long run, rural indie businesses tend to have more success. With fewer expenses and lower operating costs, rural businesses on average achieve higher profit margins and are able to build stronger connections within their communities.

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