Shops in Colchester: The cobbled streets of South Lanes filled with unique independent shops – Hope Woolston


Shopping at small, independent businesses is becoming increasingly popular, especially with the devastating effects of the coronavirus pandemic. The various confinements unfortunately lead many local businesses to close their doors permanently.

There are, however, many in Essex that are still open and relying on local custom to keep them alive. In Colchester you will find many small independent shops in the town’s ‘South Lanes’.

The ‘South Lanes’ refer to the shopping areas of Sir Isaac’s Walk, Eld Lane, Trinity Street and Scheregate Steps. Around these streets you can find hairdressers, vape shops, fashion boutiques and more.

Read more: I took home £10 from charity shops in Colchester

I wanted to see what the ‘South Lanes’ was really like, so I went to Colchester to do some shopping. I know the town quite well as I grew up near Colchester, however, it’s been a long time since I’ve wandered around.

The ‘South Lanes’ must be one of the nicest areas of the city, it is pedestrianized with fairly narrow streets and has a bit of a ‘cobbled street’ feel to it. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not The Shambles in York, Mermaid Street in Rye or Lower Gate Street in Conway, but compared to the more modern look of the rest of Colchester, it’s fine.

Most stores are quite small, but they have more inside than you might think. I even visited one that was very small at first glance, but inside there was a basement that you wouldn’t even know existed from the outside.

Here are my favorite shops I found:

Eastern traders

Eastern traders

The Eastern Traders are just off Eld Lane. This shop is full of alternative clothing, accessories and homewares.

The very first thing I noticed upon entering was the lovely smell of incense which really set the tone for what I was about to find in the store. As suggested by the smell, there was a whole wall full of different incense you could buy.

There were also gorgeous salt lamps of all shapes and sizes that had a soothing peach glow. Other home items included throw pillows, curtains, rugs and more.

In terms of clothing, everything I saw looked super comfortable. There were harem pants, dresses, jumpsuits, very brightly colored hoodies and more.

Everything is at No.11

Everything is at No. 11

A little further up the street, I found It’s all at No.11, a women’s fashion boutique in the former Fun and Games unit. I was greeted warmly when I entered by a lady moving stock.

In this shop, I found lots of clothes and accessories perfect for summer. I particularly liked a blue and pink sarong hanging in the middle of the store.

It’s all at No.11 stock shirts, dresses, beachwear, pants, purses, handbags, loungewear, jewelry and more. I thought this was the perfect shop to buy a gift for a mom, grandma, sister, or best friend.

The cusp

The cusp
The cusp

Inside The Cusp, at Eld Lane, there don’t seem to be two identical items. From the outside it looks small, but inside it is absolutely packed.

You can find crystals, wood carvings, jewelry, dream catchers, statues and more. This is the store with the second level down – I didn’t know this existed until I saw a sign pointing me down as the stairwell is disguised by all the items for sale.

The basement room is only tiny, just big enough for a buyer, and looked very old but it was completely filled with unique items. The one that really caught my eye was a roughly life-size statue of a Komodo dragon that took up much of the very limited floor space.

Beautiful love

Beautiful love
Beautiful love

Next to the Cusp is the Italian clothing store Belle Love. As soon as I walked in I couldn’t help but smile because of the color of this shop, it was like walking through a rainbow.

I love colorful clothes, you will very rarely see me wearing gray or black so it was like a dream. On the tracks, I found cute tops, beachwear and dresses.

The boutique also sells accessories like genuine leather bags, luxury scarves, hats and more. This would be a great store to visit if you’re looking to update your summer wardrobe.

Best Vintage Days

Best Vintage Days
Best Vintage Days

Best Days Vintage has been in the town of Colchester for a few years now and still attracts people. Here you can buy fashionable and quality vintage clothes and accessories.

Sweaters, jeans, tops, shirts, dresses and more are all available at Best Days, with unique items often on sale. In addition to unique vintage items, Best Days also offers new clothing and accessories from sustainable brands.

Something I discovered about Best Days was that it was more than just a clothing store. It also has a cafe and provides a non-judgmental space for anyone who needs it, including working for free weekly visits from a counsellor.

Thrift shop

Thrift shop
Thrift shop

Frippery is a shop that won me over before I even walked in the door, it was because of the super feminine pink sign that might as well have read “Hope, come in”. Once inside I was not disappointed as the girly vibe continued.

This shop sells beautiful clothes, all hanging from a rod which is hung and I’m not going to lie made me a little dizzy when I tried to take a closer look. I found some very nice summer clothes there, perfect for keeping cool in hot weather.

Fripery also sells wonderful accessories, with some great sunglasses that really caught my eye. There’s also a great range of perfect gift items for birthdays and Christmas – I’ll definitely be checking them out in the future.

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