If you are stuck for inspiration for presents for Christmas or any other occasion you will love this list of more unusual shops in for shoppers in and around Newcastle.
It is based on a Tripadvisor list of shopper recommendations ranked according to the number of reviews and ratings each store or shopping location receives. And it includes lots of hidden gems where you can get something a little different for your loved ones - or for yourself, come to that. My edited version of the list picks out those places.
I have omitted Intu's shopping malls in Newcastle and Gateshead as they are already high on everyone's list, though, for reference Eldon Square comes in at number five and the Metrocentre at number 11 on the original list. Happy shopping!
TOP OF THE SHOPS COUNTDOWN
13. Upside Down Presents
61 Side, bottom of Dean Street, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 3JE
This little shop is a sister venture to Souvenirs upon Tyne, which is opposite. Upside Down sells local art, greeting cards, mugs, teatowels, ornaments and more.
A visitor from Portsmouth wrote: "Lovely little shop in Newcastle - truly a must visit to anyone local or visiting. It's packed full of lots of brilliantly unique products that make great gifts (and treats for yourself of course!) Definitely the place to go to find something that's a bit more special."
12. Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art
Gateshead Quays South South Shore Road, Gateshead, NE8 3BA
If you've ever visited Baltic you might even be guilty of spending more time in the shop and adjoining cafe than in some of its more challenging exhibitions.
The large Baltic shop is a real treasure trove of unusual bits and bobs. Some are on the pricey side but there are also some great stocking fillers for all ages and brilliant gifts like Y (pic of an eye) (pic of a man) T-shirts and mugs. Stock includes everything from funny badges to unusual children's books, creature-shaped lamps, quirky jewellery and lots more.
11: Central Arcade
Grainger Street, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 5AF
The prettiest arcade in Newcastle, right next to Monument is home to JG Windows music shop, stuffed to the gills with everything a musician could wish for, from a guitar plectrum to a saxophone, as well as sheet music, DVDs, vinyl and music-themed gifts like a Chopin Bag (geddit?)
Other stores with frontages on Grainger Street also have entrances here, including Cath Kidston. And there is a collectable streetwear shop called Waceland.
10: Geordie Gifts
Alley 4, Grainger Market, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 5QQ
The Grainger Market is a treasure trove in itself and has changed a lot in recent years. This store has earned a place on the list for its locally made range of all things Geordie. Stock includes clothing, homeware, bags, cards (and Christmas cards) and artwork featuring Tyneside and its iconic images or Geordie expressions and phrases like "A Geordie is for life, not just for Christmas"!
9: Souvenirs upon Tyne
6 Dean Street, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE11PG
Lots of Newcastle and Gateshead-themed keyrings, badges, magnets, posters, badges, coasters, pens and snowglobes.
A reviewer from Yorkshire said: "I stumbled across this lovely shop packed full of fab souvenirs and prezzies. So many good present ideas and cards a credit to Newcastle. I bought an Angel of North pin badge for a wedding mosaic I was making. Highly recommend the shop and the staff are friendly."
8: 586 Records
3rd Floor, Commercial Union House, 39 Pilgrim Street, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 6AQ.
This specialist vinyl store has over 10,000 records for sale, online and in store, both new releases and pre-owned records from the 1960s onwards.
Reviewer Dave E from Newcastle wrote: "High streets and shopping malls all over Britain are so dull with the same old chain stores, and it is the true independent stores that are a hundred times more interesting an rewarding to shop in. This absolute gem of a record store is bulging with thousands of records from 50p and so many hard-to-find classics that make it worth seeking out."
7: The Quayside Sunday Market
Quayside, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 3AE
The Sunday market is a great place to shop on a dry day and the views are unbeatable. It is spread out between the Swing Bridge, where much of the street food stalls are, and the Millennium Bridge, passing under the Tyne Bridge en route.
One reviewer wrote: "Lovely Sunday afternoon stroll. A mixed selection of artisan stalls selling pots of nibbles, cakes and decorative house things. Make sure you go with an empty tummy though, the food vendors have a superb variety of quality street food! Great atmosphere too."
6: North East Art Collective
45 Eldon Gardens (upper level), Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 7RA
Hidden away at the back of this struggling offshoot to Eldon Square, this shop is simply enormous and well worth a visit. It opened almost nine years ago but unless you park in the adjoining car park you might never come across it. It features the work of over 150 artists and designers who all live and work in the North East.
One reviewer wrote: "This place is right at the end of Eldon Gardens (by the car park and the washrooms, so very handy!) It looks tiny from the outside but don't be fooled. It goes back and back and is crammed to the gills with artwork to suit every taste and budget. It is truly brilliant and it says volumes for its fabulousness that it's about the only shop left open in this shopping area."
5: Laing Art Gallery
New Bridge Street West, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 8AG
The gallery shop, close to Northumberland Street, stands at its entrance and has a second half linked by a few stairs or lift. This lower section sells books, goodies for children, stationery and more while the upper part has things like jewellery, scarves and arts and crafts.
One reviewer said: "Nice venue with cafe, the permanent exhibitions give a really good insight into the history of Newcastle: its belated fishing community in Cullercoats, and the former industrial landscape along the Tyne. Really nice small museum shop with beautiful cards and gifts for all ages and tastes."
4: The Back Page
56 St Andrews Street, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 5SF and 68 Russell Way, Metrocentre, Gateshead, NE11 9XX
Sports fans and their families love The Back Page which sells memorabilia from football clubs across the world in the form of T-shirts, fanzines, badges, flags, Subbuteo sets, books, DVDs and autographed merchandise, along with some Geordie goodies. It has been visited by many Newcastle United players over the years.
A reviewer wrote: "Fair prices with friendly staff and a massive range of products from a wide range of sports but mostly football. I would fully recommend a visit here." Another said: "As a massive sports fan this was an Aladdin’s cave for me and I could have spent so much longer looking at the excellent range of sports books, souvenirs and memorabilia including signed shirts etc."
3: The Grainger Market
Grainger Street , Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 5QQ
The Grainger Market offers everything from beauty products to Geordie gifts, vintage finds, hampers of coffees and cheeses, plants, clothing, outdoor gear, books, bath melts, toys, teas, pictures, jewellery, fresh food stalls and lots of hot and cold food to eat in or take away.
You can also get your hair cut, weigh yourself in the Weigh House or visit the original Marks & Spencer Penny Bazaar.
2: The Biscuit Factory
16 Stoddart Street, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE2 1AN
The paintings and sculptures are always good to admire even if your budget won't stretch, but there is also lots of unusual jewellery, prints, cards and other items. A reviewer from Wolverhampton said: "Such a breath of fresh air to browse artistic displays with a total lack of stuffiness! The reception staff were welcoming and the variety of exhibits was impressive. Pottery, paintings, sculptures - there is something for everyone. And the cafe offers some imaginative light meals at a reasonable price.
1: The Glamorous Owl
Old George Yard, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 1EZ
At the top of the list is this gift boutique set up by silversmith Claire Chapman. It features the work of 40 local arts and craftspeople and includes ceramics, glass, textiles and jewellery. You can also make your own rings under expert guidance or buy a workshop voucher as a gift.
One Scottish customer wrote: "We always visit this shop when we are in Newcastle. Never fail to find something to take home either as a present or for myself. Claire and Liz are so helpful and friendly. It's a hidden gem well worth visiting."
A few more mentions
The Side Gallery, originally number 12, sells lots of documentary photography books, postcards and posters advertising their previous exhibitions and is clearly the place to go for those. And Blagdon Farm Shop, near Seaton Burn, Newcastle, NE13 6DA was featured for its organic and local fruit and veg.
Barbour Factory Store (Monk's Way, Bede Trading Estate, South Shields, NE32 3HL) came in at number 8, but sorry Tripadvisor, South Shields is NOT in Newcastle.
Neither is Tynemouth Market but having recently visited, I would like to add my own recommendation for what is a day trip in itself. The range of stalls is vast and there is street food - plus gifty Front Street shops and a stroll on the beach close by.
Please add your own recommendations in and around Newcastle in the comments below.
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