The endless news coverage of the behemoth that is Trinity has temporarily eclipsed mention of independent stores in Leeds. However, as this site pays testament to, the Leeds independent scene is as strong as ever, and many businesses in the city are striving to provide a unique experience away from the identikit, cookie-cutter stores of the high street.
Open Lifestyle Store are one such business. Located in Thornton’s Arcade, the store sells clothes, lifestyle goods, homewares and more. Every single product has been hand picked by the owners, giving an individual and deeply personal feel to every step in the shopping experience.
We had a chat to Tom Dyer, part owner and director of Open Lifestyle Store, who told us about the importance of individuality, his unpretentious approach to business and why Leeds is on the up…
h4. Who are you and how did you get here?
We are Open Lifestyle Store, and we’re exactly that – a ‘lifestyle store’. We sell a range of products that all tie together in some way – products that have been personally selected from around the world. From music, magazines, home goods, luggage and grooming to carefully selected clothing brands and footwear, every product we sell we have a genuine love for on a personal level. All of our products have substance and are difficult to come by elsewhere.
The aesthetics of the physical store mirror our personality and the lifestyle that we are promoting. Music is a massive part of why this happened which is evident when entering the store. We want our customers to feel completely at ease browsing in store and hope to create a welcoming and comfortable atmosphere without pretension.
h4. What can customers expect at Open Lifestyle Store?
We always longed for stores with more substance in the city. You’ll have no problem finding a Topshop or H&M, but we wanted to focus on a customer that wanted something different. We wanted to attract people who know what they like when they see it regardless of what they’re being told is “cool”.
h4. What do you offer that other places in Leeds don’t?
We offer a place to browse a curated selection of interesting products in welcoming and unpretentious surroundings. It’s a place where you can pick up products that very few people will have, whether it be clothing or otherwise. We like to think the shop aesthetics, music and customer service mean it’s a pleasant place to shop.
Leeds was also missing an independent that didn’t just sell one thing, so we wanted to sell a range of products that aren’t as readily available elsewhere – even if it meant sourcing goods from overseas and not dealing with distributors. We like to deal with the people behind our brands on a personal level as far as possible.
h4. What do you think makes Leeds so awesome and where do you like to hang out in Leeds?
We love Laynes Espresso, The Reliance, Brewdog, Outlaws Yacht Club, Friends of Ham, Sela Bar, Kendells Bistro, Jakes Bar… Leeds is on its way up. There are so many changes happening so quickly, a lot of them for the better. It’s definitely becoming a really interesting place to be.
h4. What’s your favourite product available from your business?
At the moment it’s the A Kind Of Guise reversible bomber jacket – a little pricey at A310 but it’s a very special piece.
h4. What about your most popular product?
Our most popular product seems to be either Mr Natty Beard Elixir (A8) or Jason Markk Sneaker Cleaning Kit (A12).
h4. Finally, describe Open Lifestyle Store in three words…
Welcoming, unique and engaging!