Home design and gift retail is in some kind of state at the moment. Being able to shop for this stuff in person is becoming more difficult (even before the pandemic) and buying online can be a BIG risk (there’s loads of gorgeous stuff, but how responsible is it to buy cheap from China?)
Do not depair! There’s a style store on the Leeds scene that offers value and great design for all tastes. And it’s a shining star in the North of our city for those looking to get a home bargain of their own.
Chirpy in the heart of Chapel Allerton is a cute home design haven without the chintz. Nestled snugly amongst the up-and-coming terraces of shops, you could almost be forgiven for missing it. But taking a closer look inside, you’ll discover fun and finesse like no other gift store in Leeds. A strong contender at our #leedsindieawards, we spoke to the owner Jo about establishing herself and her business in the fastest growing area of the city, the things that make her tick and the personal touch…
Who are you and how did you get here?
I’m Jo and I own Chirpy, a gorgeous quirky design led gift shop and workshop & gallery space, right in the heart of Chapel Allerton in North Leeds on the award winning Harrogate Road!
Chirpy has been open for 8 years, mine for almost 4 – it was always my local gift shop for presents and cards and when it came up for sale it was a matter of right time, right place (and midlife crisis!) I wanted a new challenge, away from the corporate world I’d been in for 20 years and this seemed like the perfect opportunity. I’ve kept the same vibe as it had with it’s previous owner but added my own twist to it through the new stock I’ve chosen.
Customers can expect a chirpy welcome (I’m locally know as Chirpy Jo or the Chirpy Lady!!) and help in finding the perfect gift. Most people don’t come in with something specific in mind, they just know they was something a little bit different and that’s what we aim to do. We tend to change the stock quite often so that there’s always something new for our customers though we do also have our best selling products, which I try and make sure we have in all the time. Our workshops are relaxed and informal and perfect to come along to with friends, but also suitable to come along on your own and feel welcome.
What do you offer that other places in Leeds don’t?
Chirpy likes to support local makers, to showcase their work and make it available to the people of Leeds (& those who travel further afield to visit).
In Chapel Allerton we have a unique upstairs space, where we run a really busy programme of different workshops, from weaving to furniture painting, doodling to ceramics. The workshops are run by local people whose work we also sell in the shop and we’re always looking for new ones to run. We also hire out the upstairs space for private parties and can help organise events such as hen parties, baby showers & birthdays. I also introduced an ‘Artist in Residence’ programme, where local artists can use the space upstairs to showcase & sell their work for a few weeks – they usually launch their residency with a free workshop so everyone can have a go at being an artist.
What’s your favourite product available at Chirpy?
My rule of thumb is that I try not to stock anything I wouldn’t buy myself so it’s hard to pick a favourite! However I do love the Chapel Allerton themed products as these are unique to Chirpy – the mugs & tea towels are only £11 so they make great presents or treat for yourself. We’re just getting the Christmas stock in too and there’s some amazing Chapel Allerton, Meanwood & Roundhay baubles – there’ll definitely be one of them hanging on my Christmas tree!
What’s your most popular item?
The workshops are really popular, as people also get a bit of private shopping time and discounts in the shop! It’s hard to say what the most popular products are as my customers buy so many different things and the stock is always changing. However we are known for the great jewellery & ceramics we sell and brilliant baby leggings!
What do you think makes Leeds so awesome?
I’m not from Leeds originally, I’m a north east girl, however I came here over 20 years ago to work and loved it – it’s definitely home and I’m here to stay. I love the fact it’s got something for everyone, great bars and restaurants, fab shopping and always lots of different cultural events going on. I’ve also been so surprised by all the local makers there are in Leeds, many of whom I stock in Chirpy.
Where do you like to hang out in Leeds?
I love going to the theatre so I spend a lot of time going to see plays, ballet, musicals at the Playhouse and The Grand. There’s too many great little bars in Leeds to mention, but I do love Distrikt (usually found there when my hubby is DJing!)
Finally, describe Chirpy in 3 words…
Quirky, contemporary, welcoming 🙂