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Otley is a thriving shopping location. It has a wide range of specialist shops which include award winning bakeries and butchers, a specialist chocolatier, high street chains and three supermarkets, plus a variety of shops offering second hand and bargain prices. The high number of independently owned businesses pride themselves on their expertise, personal service and value for money and attract the many shoppers who are regular visitors to the town.
For the shopper seeking something out of the ordinary, as a gift or just for themselves, Otley has the answer.
There is also a highly successful Farmers’ Market which is held on the last Sunday of every month, on Otley Market Place from 9.00 am to 1.00 pm.The market sells fresh and organic produce, direct from the producer and sourced as locally as possible. There are over 40 stalls selling a wide variety of produce.
Otley Farmers’ Market is part of the Yorkshire Farmers’ Markets Group which also includes the markets at Harrogate and Wetherby. For full details click here.
To coincide with the Farmers’ Market, Otley Courthouse runs a monthly designer Craft and Gift Fair. Click here for full details.
Otley Loyalty Card
For regular shoppers in Otley why not take advantage of the Otley Loyalty Card scheme? The card, which is free, offers special offers and benefits at various businesses throughout the town. The card is operated by Otley Chamber of Trade. Click Here for further details.
Some of Otley’s Interesting Shops and Shopkeepers
Otley prides itself on its range of independent shops. It’s always easy (or is it?) to see what’s on sale but maybe you want to get to know the people involved in what are predominantly family businesses……so read on…
For over 130 years now five generations of the Middlemiss family have been providing the townsfolk of Otley with award winning meaty treats from their own Manor Farm in nearby Askwith. First established in 1881 by John Middlemiss, the present owner’s great great grandfather, from a stall in Otley Market place, the business moved into its present premises in 1900.
Dan, the mini-moto restorer, scuba diving Martin, vintage Triumph Tiger riding Tony and tri-athlete Peter are the shop staff today, helped by Andrew, the 2011 Institute of Meat National young apprentice of the Year Andrew, who is the second Middlemiss to get the award.
In between award ceremonies and polishing their array of trophies and plaques for their quality products, the Middlemiss family have spent time with Clarissa Dixon-Wright and Rosemary Shrager of Swinton Park to pass the cook a few tips.
See the empire of Poor Bens, Pineapple Chunks and Acid Drops as well as another 300 or so jars of sweets that stand floor to ceiling and line the walls of her sugary palace in Newmarket.
Kept next to the antique till, the visitor book is signed by delighted customers from far flung parts of the globe such as Ontario, Sydney, Japan and Dishforth(!), all eager to lose themselves down a memory lane paved with Cinder Toffee and Humbugs. Many of the Emmerdale cast call regularly for a quarter of one of the two dozen varieties of liquorice always in stock.
Chez Vin, 24 Newmarket, 01943-466143
Another Aladdin’s cave, this time of liquid delights, proprietor David Lawson puts his 25 years of experience to good use patiently and carefully guiding both the connoisseur and the absolute beginner around his extensive collection of wine, whisky, spirits beer and coffee from all cornbers of the globe.
David only stocks the “good stuff” but that needn’t be frightening.. Chez Vin’s groaning shelves carry the full spectrum of price from the novice’s bargains for less than a tenner to 30 year old malt whiskies when you’ll see no change from £300!
Keen to spread his lifetime’s experience to thirsty local townsfolk, David uses his long held diploma from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust to run his popular wine tasting classes and well attended Spring and Summer wine fairs.
Bondgate Bakery, 30 Bondgate. 01943-467516
Founded in 1984 by baker in chief and owner, Stephen Taylor and his partner, Sally Hinchliffe, in a building once known as the Cock and Bottle pub, Bondgate bakery was originally equipped with second hand equipment. It now has expanded into the two next-door shops and employs 15 people.
Passionate about bread and rising, like his dough, at 3:00am daily, Steve and his team get to work producing about 30 different types of bread from scratch. From dark rye to stoneground wholemeals, fruity muesli bread to mixed seed cobs, cheesy oat bread, crusty white loaves and teacakes, sourdoughs and a totally gluten-free loaf, steve is bakes without additives, pre-mixes or preservatives. Only high quality ingredients, free range eggs local honey and lots of fresh and dried fruit are used. Many flours are organic and grown and milled locally.
There are no cream buns on display, but instead trays of wholesome oaty slices studded with hazelnuts and dried fruit. Trays of sticky pear and ginger sponge sit beside a mouth watering array of quiches and pizzas which complement the huge range of bread.
A high point for Steve and Sally has been winning the Best Independent Retailer in the BBC’s Food and Farming Awards.
“Chocolate Trevor” Backhouse has enjoyed baking since he was a child. His first job at the tender age of 15 was in a local village bakery where he passed his City and Guilds at Thomas Danby College in Leeds. Trev then spent 4 years working in France exploring a passion for chocolate creativity as well as continuing to develop his patisserie skills.
On his return to England in 1986, Trevor then established his “Theatre of Confections” by opening the Patisserie Viennoise in Otley, bringing the continental touch to a Yorkshire public then more used to Mars Bars and Wagon Wheels
Trevor and his highly skilled team of creative confectioners have now been making 30 varieties of handmade chocolates for almost 30 years and he even gave the BBC’s Hairy Bikers a lesson in making wedding cakes a few years ago.
An oasis of calm amongst the bustle of activity of Westgate, a step through the archway near the traffic lights is like falling down the rabbit hole from Alice in Wonderland, emerging into a sunlit jumble of pots, planters, shrubs and flowers, the tranquillity only augmented by the burble of water and Radio 4.
The courtyard once served as the stables of the former Half Moon coaching Inn from where a Mr Petty ran a Friday (only) service clattering between Otley and Storiths, near Skipton, some 100 years ago. The Half Moon closed in 1971 after 220 years and in 2005 Courtyard Planters was established.
Katie and Tom love their subject and run many courses, some one day, some over a term, in their newly opened resource centre covering many topics including hanging baskets, growing vegetables and gardening for beginners, as well as being leading lights in the Otley in Bloom Task force which keeps the town’s floral displays looking colourful, neat and tidy.
This is more a secret garden than commercial garden centre but you will be enchanted by it.
Another little gem hidden away in a peaceful corner of town, fresh flowers, home made soft furnishings, tiny cake forks and china cups and saucers all make for a genteel atmosphere of that most civilized of pastimes, English Afternoon tea ( as well as morning coffee and lunch)
Passion is a much overused word in this world of blasphemous TV chefs but baking maniac Joanne Wood knows nothing else, turning out home-made cakes, scones and confections on a daily basis from her perpetual motion oven; her counter groans under the weight of 15 or so varieties, from Toblerone cake, cranberry and macadamia cake to coconut and lime scones, all produced from scratch.
No short cuts, nothing bought in unless handmade itself, nothing fried!
By evening, Yum! becomes available for private hire converting into a candle-lit venue for an evening soiree.
Jenni’s Dresser, 26 Cross Green 01943-468833
Jenni Small’s dress agency offers an outlet where you can sell designer and high quality items that you may have purchased and never worn or only worn for an occasion. Customers are asked to make an appointment, Jenni then selects which items are suitable and prices them accordingly. When the items sell, you get half the selling price.
When presented with a challenge of “I’m going to a “do”, what do I wear?”, Jenni darts around her shop gathering hats, shoes, handbags, belts, dresses, jackets and skirts that, using her expert eye for style and colour and knack of what co-ordinates, instantly comes up with an outfit that would make Gok Wan gasp for breath.
Many interesting items are constantly being brought in to sell and one of the more memorable items was a £1000 red cocktail dress designed for Barbara Windsor.
Similarly, some of her customers, like an actress attending a film premiere, prefer not to be named, but if you ask Jenni, she might just whisper you the answer.
This tobacco, pipe and gift emporium dates back to the 1860’s when Joseph Barber set off for Kentucky to build up a tobacco business. At its height, 80 ton loadas qwre exported back to Britain where his factory in Otley processed the tobacco for sale around the north of England.
Now the business is run by James Barber who started at the age of 11 when he opened up the shop and swept the floor for his father. At the modest age of 36, James became the Chairman of the Association of Independent Tobacco specialists, the UK’s governing body for the tobacco trade.
Barber’s set up the first commercial website in Otley and became the first UK tobacco company to trade online. In 2007, after 140 years, the time came to leave their tiny shop in Kirkgate and set up in their bright new home on Beech Hill.
Barbers has won many accolades including the Millennium Cigar Awards Northern Regional Winner (1999) and the Worshipful Company of Pipe Makers and Tobacco Blenders Retailer of the Year (2008) and their tobacco has even flavoured a duck dish on the BBC’s Great British Menu.
Needless to say, the company has connections with the Caribbean with cigar rolling demonstrations from Cuban and Dominican experts and James and his wife Angela have even sat next to the cigar smoking ex-President of Cuba, Fidel Castro, at a dinner in Havana.
If fly tying, rod fishing and all things of the riverbank float your boat then take a wander up the intriguing Kirkgate Arcade where, amongst the array of fishing rods, opossum pelts and pheasant feathers at No.11 you might find owner Steve Bielby contentedly at work.
Once employed in the contract hire of trucks, Steve left the rat race behind only to find he now works twice as hard, but now in his lifetime’s passion of fly fishing and fly tying.
Having opened Wharfedale Angling Classics in 2000, supplying the finest materials by mail order, it soon became apparent that a local retail specialist to serve the fly-tying community was greatly needed. In January 2006 Steve proudly opened his first emporium at the top of Kirkgate Arcade. Further expansion followed and now Steve is in larger premises in the Arcade where he also stocks fly fishing equipment and his ambition of his own angling empire complete.
Whilst dealing with customers from as far apart as Dubai and Rochdale (folk music hero and comedian is a long time angling trip soulmate) and showing in trade fairs in such as Galway, Steve is never happier than on his favourite stretch of the River Wharfe, maybe giving an angling lesson or dreaming of his dream trip to New Zealand or his personal record catch, a 3lb wild brown trout
THE INFORMATION ABOUT THE BUSINESSES ABOVE HAS BEEN EXTRACTED FROM “OTLEY SHOP HEROES TRAIL” PRODUCED BY OTLEY CHAMBER OF TRADE AND OTLEY TOWN COUNCIL.