Local businesses are the DNA and heartbeat of our cities, towns and villages, run by inspiring local legends. Whether you're looking for a great meal, present shopping, or wanting to explore some art, going local means you're getting a truly unique experience - an experience or product that you may not be able to find anywhere else in the world.
When we support local businesses, we're investing in the people and places we call home, getting to know the owners and employees, but we also have a direct impact on the local economy. Unfortunately, we couldn't cover all the great businesses, but here are a few from some major UK cities to whet your appetite and inspire you to try something new.
Support Small Businesses in Birmingham
From exploring the city's waterfront destinations to indulging in the best of entertainment, art, food and drinks, you'll never run out of things to do in Birmingham. What makes Birmingham great, is the people that live there. If you’re planning a trip or you live locally, here are some of our favourite local businesses.
Food and Drink
Flying Cow Burgers: Flying Cow Burgers is Britain's Best Street Food Burger winner and the National Burger Award Finalist, so you know they're good. You can find these award-winning burgers popping up across the Midlands.
Grand Central Kitchen: Craving a proper full English brekkie? Satisfy your stomach and head to Grand Central Kitchen, situated smack bang in the city centre. They are currently open for takeaway and have a fair number of tables available when dining in store is an option.
Harvest Skincare: Harvest Skincare is an independent organic skincare brand located in Kings Heath, offering luxury products and great treatments from their skilled team. Each product is crafted by hand, contains only natural ingredients, and all packaging is biodegradable and reusable.
The Clean Kilo: Multi-award winner, The Clean Kilo is the UK's largest zero-waste supermarket. They aim to sell plastic-free products, source food locally and reduce food waste. You can buy all your essentials in-store or online – bonus points if you remember to bring your own container to fill.
The Glee Club: Easily one of the best comedy clubs in Birmingham, the Glee Club hosts some of the city’s best up-and-coming local talent as well as the big names. There’s no better way to start or end a night with a good giggle while supporting local talent.
Mockingbird Cinema and Kitchen: Set within the city's creative hub, The Mockingbird Cinema and Kitchen offers a unique experience in its fully independent cinema. Typically, the cinema provides craft beer and gourmet food to nibble on whilst enjoying your movie.
Trains to Birmingham
Birmingham New Street is one of the major stations in the city and has fantastic links from all over the UK. Some popular routes include Manchester to Birmingham, Newcastle to Birmingham, and Banbury to Birmingham.
Support Small Businesses in Edinburgh
Hop on a train to Edinburgh, Scotland’s bustling capital city - the perfect destination for a day trip or a long weekend away. While you’re away, you’ll be sure to see the castle and the many great tourist sites. For an even more authentic experience, find some of the best food, shopping, and culture gems that make up the city, all while supporting the fantastic local businesses.
Food and Drink
Artisan Roast: A well-brewed cup of coffee is the only way to wake up, and you won’t find more delicious coffee than the specialty roasts at Artisan Roast, with multiple locations around Edinburgh. Even more refreshing is their sustainable approach to coffee - Artisan are part of Circular Coffee Scotland, a group committed to zero coffee waste and using recycled packaging where possible.
Sabzi: Sabzi is an Indian restaurant with flair, thanks to their family-inspired recipes and modern street food style. If you’re looking for an extra special way to kickstart your day, why not try their breakfast menu, featuring Bacon & Egg Naan and Masala Scrambled Tofu? Try something new - trust us, you won’t regret it.
Tattie Shaws: Tattie Shaws is a grocery store packed full of all kinds of produce, from all around the world. From pine nuts and quinoa to fresh kumquats and acacia honey, you can find everything you need to stock your kitchen in Tattie Shaws. Known locally as a brilliantly stocked green grocer with a fantastic selection, why not visit Tattie Shaws and try out a new recipe?
Armchair Books: Armchair Books is filled with rows and rows of eclectic books, ranging from science-fiction and romance to specialist non-fiction volumes and journals. With Edinburgh Castle watching over the shop and winding aisles you could get lost in, this is an Edinburgh institution that is worth spending an afternoon exploring.
Avalanche Records: Based in the iconic Waverley Market, Avalanche Records goes way beyond records; an hour browsing through their selection offers a great range of t-shirts, exclusive prints and photographs, and even CDs. If you’re big into the vinyl revival, and you’re looking to expand your collection, you’ll find nothing but the best in the Avalanche stocks.
Trains to Edinburgh
Edinburgh Waverley is the major station in the Scottish capital and has fantastic links from all over the UK. Some popular routes include Newcastle to Edinburgh, Glasgow to Edinburgh, and Birmingham to Edinburgh.
Support Small Businesses in Manchester
The city often referred to as the ‘capital of the north’, Manchester is truly contemporary city, its modernity is visible in its stylish architecture and world-class sport offering. The city perfectly blends its historical past with a modern outlook.
Food and Drink
Panchos Burrito: Are you ever in the mood for some authentic Mexican food? The good news is, if you're Manchester-based or travelling there, Panchos Buritto offers some top-notch Mexican grub made by owners Martinez Hernandez and his wife, Colette. Martinez' Mama's passed-down recipes will transport you from the Arndale Centre straight to Mexico City.
The Spärrows: The Spärrows is a continental café based near Manchester Victoria station. The café specialises in hand-made dumplings and European pasta. Anyone who's been to Germany or Austria will have heard of Spätzle – a delicious egg pasta extremely popular in the area. The Spärrows offers a collection and takeaway and are always on hand to help you with your carb craving.
Our Kid: Our Kid is a laid-back, stylish independent children's shop stocking clothing, toys and gifts. Located in Chorlton, the shop also has a lovely café complete with an AstroTurf lawn that is especially popular with families. The venue is also available to hire out, with perfect workshops, events and meetings.
Paramount Books: Paramount Books has been around since 1965, with a shop in the city centre. It might not look like much from the outside, but don't judge a book by its cover (pardon the pun). Paramount Books is a hidden gem and is popular amongst those who know about it. The bookstore is full of nostalgic pre-owned books and comics that will keep you browsing for hours.
Edge Theatre: The Edge Theatre’s beautiful venue hosts some of the UK's best small-scale touring theatres and their very own productions. Working with hundreds of amazing actors and musicians over the years, some have learning disabilities, some have experienced homelessness, and many are from our local community, but everyone is brilliant!
Christopher Walster: Actor turned illustrator Christopher Walster was born in Aberdeen but now calls the city of Manchester his home. Christopher specialises in black-and-white illustrations, including skylines, landmarks, slogans and cartoons. You can explore his stunning work online or at local markets or galleries around the UK.
Trains to Manchester
Manchester Piccadilly is the major station in the city and has fantastic links from all over the UK. Some popular routes include Leeds to Manchester, Birmingham to Manchester, and Bristol to Manchester.
Support Small Businesses in Bristol
Recently voted as the best place to live in the UK, Bristol combines rich maritime heritage with a contemporary vibe and culture. What also makes Bristol great is that it’s home to amazing people and fantastic small businesses. Unfortunately, we couldn’t fit them all in, but here are some of our favourites.
Food and Drink
Seven Lucky Gods: Treat yourself to a date night or a dinner with friends somewhere new - Seven Lucky Gods. With their exciting Japanese small plates, sushi innovations, and a bento selection, there’s nothing not to love from this gorgeously designed Izakaya-inspired restaurant in the heart of Bristol.
Small Street Espresso: Located in Bristol’s Old City and serving Bristolian coffee, Small Street Espresso is a Bristol coffee house through and through. With perfectly brewed blends, serving Clifton Coffee as their house roast, and showcasing guest roasters from around Bristol, there’s nowhere better to get your caffeine fix, or sit and work, than Small Street Espresso.
Zero Green: Bristol refill shop Zero Green is the perfect proof that shopping sustainably doesn’t have to be difficult. Spearheading the refill revolution as Bristol’s first zero waste shop, Zero Green has become a favourite of eco-warriors around the city. With natural, plastic-free products, local produce, recyclable packaging, and a thoroughly sustainable vibe - Zero Green is sure to become your favourite.
Fig 1: Fig 1 is a testament to the creativity that runs through Bristol. Perfectly combining beauty and function, Fig 1 curates homewares, lifestyle essentials, and wonderful gift options to fill your world with stunningly aesthetic items. If you pop into Fig 1, there’s no way you’re leaving empty-handed.
Project HB: Exercise classes that are focused on feeling good? Sign me up! Carly Wilkinson started Project HB to empower women to feel comfortable and confident in their bodies, and to fall in love with exercise. Project HB is here to help you find strength, power, happiness, and empowerment with movement.
Storysmith: Storysmith is a beloved Bristol bookshop stocking a perfectly curated selection of fiction, non-fiction, and children’s literature to capture imaginations! Whether you’re looking to expand your library, gift an interesting novel, or find something new by your favourite author, stop into Storysmith.
Trains to Bristol
Bristol Temple Meads is the most central station in the city and has fantastic links from all over the UK; alternatively, Bristol Parkway Station is just outside of the city too. Some popular routes include Cardiff to Bristol, Plymouth to Bristol, and Birmingham to Bristol.
If you're planning a trip to support a local businesses near you, don't forget to book an Advance ticket via our website or our Train Tickets app for zero booking fees. You can also find information on how to get cheaper train tickets via our special offers page. If you need more information, you can contact us here.
The UK is bursting with fun activities. Whether you’re visiting one of the best historical places in the UK, the best forests in the UK, or the best cinemas in the UK, you can always travel by train. CrossCountry has services running up and down the country to ensure you can get to the places you need to be.
Written by Julia