Leeds Corn Exchange is a beautiful and iconic building right in the centre of Leeds. It was built between 1861 and 1863 by Hull based architect, Cuthbert Broderick. In the 1980s Speciality Shops restored the building and converted it into a retail facility – it was around this time you could not go into or leave the building without battling your way through the crowd of young “goths” who regularly hung around the entrance.
Rushbond acquired the Corn Exchange in 2017 and two years later the impressive building holds around 30 independent retailers and food outlets. Although it no longer functions as a corn exchange, it still remains one of only three that still acts as a trade centre.
I spoke to Manu at All Blues Company, who told me he’d named his men’s fashion store after his favourite Miles Davis track. Manu describes the ethos of All Blues Company as selling casual classics from the 50s, 60s and 70s. He uses the store Instagram account to show customers classic styles worn by fashion icons, and how that look can be achieved by buying from his store. He showcases the style of Ernest Hemingway, Pablo Picasso, Paul Newman and Steve McQueen. All Blues Company offer customers classic styles with the highest quality and craftsmanship.
Manu travels to South Korea at least twice a year to pick up all the latest styles and trends – he feels South Korea has surpassed Japan as the place to source top-notch and affordable fashion and is the first store in the UK to stock more than one South Korean brand.
Little Pink Wardrobe
Deborah Bellamy from Little Pink Wardrobe described the Corn Exchange as “a stunning building that attracts lots of tourists from all over the world.” Although she does worry that the shopping destination is sometimes over-looked by residents of Leeds.
She describes the ethos of the shop as a very versatile ladies’ boutique. Deborah travels to Italy, Paris and Spain to source hand-made jewellery and goods that UK customers would not be able to find elsewhere. One of her current favourite products is the hand-made leaf jewelry that has been from Scotland. Deborah explains “We can’t compete with the high street so we offer something different you can’t get elsewhere.”
Great Yorkshire Shop
Aeneas Brewster has run the Great Yorkshire Shop for 4 years this November. He explains, “In the first couple of years in business you learn a lot. This is a great building to be in for my business – I get to meet lots of tourists from all over the world.”
He describes the shop as stocking quality goods either from Yorkshire or with a Yorkshire theme. Anais works with lots of businesses from across the region but has recently begun to design and create his own products.
Cailyn Harold at Outrage jewellers has worked there for over 6 years. Cailyn told me how the owners of the shop are an engineer and a geology teacher – creating jewelry using those knowledge bases seemed like the perfect continuation of their work. She explains “Lots of customers love the Corn Exchange for the independent retailers and we get tons of tourists as the building is such a great attraction.”
Cailyn’s favourite items in the store are the amber beads and opal jewelry, because of the way its look changes in different lights.
Neil at Northern Acoustics has been situated in the Corn Exchange for the past decade. “It is a beautiful building to be in, smack bang in the middle of the city centre.” says Neil. “Although I do feel that the Corn Exchange is seen more as a tourist building and sometimes gets overlooked by residents of Leeds.”
Neil explained that despite the rise in popularity of internet shopping, nothing can beat actually holding a guitar in your hand and hearing its sound. Northern Acoustics also offer quality advice and after-care, which is something, he argues, you would not be able to access online.
Get yourself down to the Corn Exchange and browse all of the independent stores – grabbing yourself a purchase you are unlikely to find elsewhere in Leeds.