A Lancastrian Flânerie for the Shopaholics


One of the best parts of the beginning of a new term is a healthy bank account replenished by student loans: there is no better reason to treat yourself to a new outfit.

We begin our stroll at the bus stop at Common Garden, and after politely thanking the driver we turn left, where you should see a coffee shop, a bakery and a gorgeous independent book store. Walking past these, our first stop is the Assembly Rooms. Housed in a Grade II listed building from the 18th century with striking columns, they are an overlooked member of the vintage shop gang: they hold a wide range of stalls and styles from glittery dresses to bomber jackets. 

Across the road is Swag!: a place for the retro lovers among us where they rework clothes to create bespoke, unique pieces. Along the road and around the corner, we look up a hill which is deceptively steep, as I found out with two heavy suitcases on a very warm day; but thankfully, we aren’t heading all the way up the hill. A large, impressive building called The Storey confronts us. This place has been the home for creativity and technical innovation in Lancaster, and in here houses the Vintage Kilo Sale. It only comes to Lancaster once or twice a year so keep an eye out for tickets. 

Taking the scenic route back down to town, we pass Lancaster’s castle where walking along the cobbles gives you an excellent opportunity to appreciate the enthralling history that this city holds. Down past the Judges Lodgings and across the road, we are back into the central streets of Lancaster. As we stroll down here, we are met with the rear entrance to TK Maxx: while not as ethical as all the other places mentioned, I highly advise it for your beauty needs. We continue down this street full of great restaurants, including the up and coming Cappuvino and an Italian place that I refuse to visit since they replaced Quattro Formaggi Pizza with Ham and Pineapple. 

The main street is marked by the often-ignored British Heart Foundation store or Bella Italia depending on your priorities. We turn right and look into the commercial heart of Lancaster, as it is probably busy it is a bit difficult to appreciate this point where Lancaster old and new meets. On market day, it offers a brilliant picture of an ancient town in the modern age, with a juxtaposition between the chain stores and the quaint stalls that line the streets, almost as if they are shielding the stores from the Lancastrian’s view. 

Our walk up this road stops at the brilliantly coloured window of Oxfam. Their shop is a haven of odds and ends, having a great collection of not only clothes but handmade baskets and sustainable beauty products. When you have dragged yourself away from the Moomin travel mugs, I suggest taking your next available right; no, not to visit Spoons but to head to the final place, The Exchange. Situated past Tesco and Journey Social, this little shop is a treasure trove, stocking a wide range of clothes from high street to designer; including some striking Stella McCartney boots that I have been resisting for a while now. There is also a downstairs to this shop and its artificial light shines on a host of vintage clothes. 

And so our flânerie ends but perhaps it is worth heading back to one of those cafes we passed… 

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