Back to school: three simple words that strike equal joy and dread into children and parents throughout the land. After an Easter holiday that was no doubt entertaining and exhausting, it is with both relief and regret for all involved that school is indeed back. 

Besides the emotional push and pull, there is also a practicality which must not go forgotten. The books and the stationery, the lunchboxes and the uniforms, the must-do homework and the must-have fashions. 

Thankfully, there are shops in Leeds specialising in such stuff and making it a whole lot easier to remember what’s needed and pick up what’s wanted. Here are a few independents providing a beautifully unique and perfectly practical back to school experience. 


The original Leeds supplier, Dinsdales has been providing the city since 1883! Having moved from the centre to Headingley, they continue to do what they’ve always done best by offering a vast array of stationery, art and design materials for artists, students and beginners alike. The shop is a treasure trove to browse through, with serious stock which will impress creatives, whilst also providing essentials for school kids, including printing and laminating services. 

Fred Aldous

Over in Manchester, a man named Fred was opening his own store at a similar time to Dinsdales. Starting as a cotton trader in 1886, the business evolved to focus on crafts, which is its core to this day. Having moved to Leeds in 2015, their shop on Kirkgate is an inviting space to immerse yourself in. There’s shopping for art, crafts, models and a haberdashery with tools to delight all ages and skills. And their gift range of notebooks and stationery will ensure your child is set up for school in style. 

Colours May Vary

This terrific little independent shop at Munro House has been providing Leeds with style and design since opening in 2012. From cool publications to unique prints, they stock only that which they know to be useful or believe to be beautiful. This ethos extends into stationary with an ever-changing always-excellent range of notebooks, pens and more that both you and your child will indeed find beautiful and useful. 

Our Handmade Collective 

In the stunning Grand Arcade, Our Handmade Collective is a joyful gift emporium that showcases several Leeds makers and creators. Within the selection of artisan crafts and goodies are some back to school standouts, from notepads, planners and stickers, through bookmarks, and pencil cases, to tote bags, badges and masks. A great way to support your local independent scene whilst supporting your child! 

Kirkgate Market

There are few things that cannot be found in Leeds’ famous old market, and those final back to school items are no different. Whether from the outdoor pop ups or the permanent indoor traders, a wander round will find the bits and pieces you’ve been looking for and probably some more that you weren’t. Stationery, clothing, lunchboxes, you name it, there’ll be a stall at Kirkgate Market selling it. 


Images: Dinsdales, Colours May Vary, Our Handmade Collective