26th Dec 2019 in Shopping
Belfast Cathedral Quarter is well known for its eateries, arts and culture, music and entertainment – but we want everyone to know it is also a fantastic shopping destination!
You only have to click the ‘Retail’ tab in our business directory to see how many places there are to shop for gifts, souvenirs, clothing, and everyday essentials.
We thought this was the perfect time to introduce you to some of the Belfast Cathedral Quarter’s best shops – the CQ’s unique offering might be just what you need for a last-minute gift or simply a bit of retail therapy!
Right at the heart of the CQ on Hill Street, you’ll find Flow Yoga.
As well as being one of NI’s top yoga studios, they also have a gorgeous shop, stocked with everything a discerning yogi could ask for, from clothes, mats and equipment, to locally produced health drinks, jewellery and accessories.
Jackson Sports is one of the country’s leading sports stores and has been trading successfully for over 50 years, opening its doors for the first time back in 1967.
This award-winning independent retailer specialises in mountain and outdoor sports and stocks all the leading brands in clothing and footwear, plus all the gear you’d need for camping, climbing, hiking, watersports, and travel.
Bicycle Coffee Shop is a bike shop and coffee area run by cycling enthusiasts, for cycling enthusiasts. It’s small but mighty, with everything a self-respecting bike fanatic could want under one roof, from bicycles to accessories and parts.
They specialise in custom handbuilt bikes and wheels, and also offer a high tech bike sizing and fitting services for all types of bikes. Any bike bought here comes with a free bike sizing and fitting included. With coffee instore from Belfast Coffee Roasters, it’s certainly worth a visit!
There’s also plenty on offer for the active or outdoorsy shopper in Smithfield Market – McCann’s Army and Navy Stores is one of its original traders and has army and navy surplus clothing, coats and boots, backpacks and accessories.
The Boxing Equipment shop has everything an experienced or aspiring boxer could possibly need to do their best in the ring.
While Norm’s Cycles is another one-stop shop in the heart of the CQ for the bike enthusiast.
Glitter and Sparkle
The Make Up Pro Store is well known for its talented in-house artists and founder Paddy McGurgan’s fantastic pro courses and events – but this shop isn’t just for the pros you know! Their stunning retail shop on Royal Avenue is open to anyone who loves their make up and wants to make sure they are putting only the best face forward.
Paddy’s team of experts is on hand in store for any advice and guidance you need with your purchase. Why not read about one of the talented artists working instore and take a sneak peek behind the doors?
There are no fewer than four fantastic jewellers within the Cathedral Quarter BID area – Gardiner Brothers on Waring Street, Murray & Co on Talbot Street, Joseph Rea on Castle Street and E. Lauro in Smithfield Market.
Gardiner Brothers have been in the watch and jewellery business in Belfast since 1937. It remains a family-run wholesale jewellery business to this day, and have one of the highest qualified gemologists available to advise you on the perfect piece.
Murray & Co are wholesale jewellers and diamond merchants, offering a wide range of fine jewellery, including wedding and engagement rings, earrings, pendants and eternity rings, as well as a bespoke jewellery service.
E. Lauro has a wide range of pre-owned jewellery and watches available, as well as antiques and other collectables, while Joseph Rea is well known as a diamond specialist.
Art, crafts and gifts
Unique Art Shop at Ulster University is an arts shop stocked with work from current and past students at the Belfast School of Art.
The shop itself is located on the York Street campus, offering original work in every medium you can think of, from paintings, prints, postcards and drawings, to sculpture, textile art, jewellery, woodwork, stationery and laser-cut crafts.
Craft NI has recently opened its brand new gallery and shop on Royal Avenue, packed with creations from some of Northern Ireland’s finest artists and craftspeople.
You’ll find woodwork, jewellery, ceramics, homewares, ornaments, postcards and textiles, and you can also browse the gallery space where you can currently see the Arts Council NI craft collection on display.
The Belfast Print Workshop has an enormous selection of work from the country’s most talented printmakers.
If the sheer choice available in the studio is overwhelming, check out their online exhibition, offering a guide to a selection of the work available, which has been curated by Studio Technician and artist Raquel Amat Parra.
Belfast Cathedral houses a beautiful gift shop, for the perfect souvenir of a visit to Belfast, a unique gift for a loved one – or simply something pretty to take home and enjoy!
They have artwork, ornaments, candles and woodwork plus lots more.
Music and tech
Maybe we’re biased because they’re our neighbours here in the CQ… but we don’t think you’ll find a better music store than Dawsons Music in Northern Ireland!
With instruments and equipment spread over no fewer than four floors, you could kit out any band, studio or DJ in one visit. Guitars, keyboards, drums, amps, recording and DJ equipment – it’s all here.
With its unmistakable deep purple exterior, Voodoo Soup Records is a cool and quirky store, packed with collector’s favourites and off-the-beaten-track finds. They buy and sell CDs and records, so you could have a post-Christmas clearout and refresh your music collection at the same time! They also offer vouchers to gift the music lover in your life.
Richer Sounds is a boutique-sized store with a product offering to rival the big boys! They stock an impressive selection of TVs, home cinema, hi-fi and AV equipment, with an instore demo room and popular install service. The dedicated and knowledgeable customer service team have over 70 years of combined experience and expertise to help you with your purchase decision.
Something a little bit different
With customers all over the world obsessed with their colour-rich, metallic-effect or glittery bath bombs, they have built a brand that includes body mists and washes, soaps, scrubs, perfume oil, gift sets and loads more. You can shop online or buy from a selection instore.
Ripp Off is an alternative fashion and lifestyle store selling a huge range of wares including band t shirts, clubwear, smoking accessories, Iron Fist shoes, film and music art. They have continued to thrive in the Cathedral Quarter despite being one of the traders displaced by the devastating fire at North Street Arcade.
Food and Drink
Mike’s Fancy Cheese has recently celebrated one year of trading from its fragrant and popular little shop on Little Donegall Street.
They sell a range of delicious, locally produced artisan cheeses and foodstuffs, including their own products (most notably, the famous Young Buck for which they are so well known). Read more about Mike and make sure to tell him we sent you if you pop in.
Another hidden gem in the CQ, the Friend at Hand is a specialist Irish whiskey emporium run by the Duke of York’s well-known proprietor, Willie Jack.
It combines an off licence with a mini museum charting the history of whiskey distillation in Belfast. You can browse and buy from the biggest collection of Irish Whiskeys available anywhere and get exclusive access to our own brand 13-year-old whiskeys.
Another of Smithfield Market’s successful small businesses, Doughzy Doughnuts has the most mouthwatering selection of doughnuts you are likely to find in this town.
With flavours like Kitkat and Caramel; Wild Blueberry; Hobnob, Caramel and Nutella; their American style iced and glazed doughnuts are freshly made and completely delicious.
Old Time Favourites is also just across the road on Winetavern Street for anyone with a sweet tooth and an appetite for nostalgia. Still going strong after over 100 years, this is one of Belfast’s last remaining old fashioned sweet shops and has all the old favourites in jars, alongside modern treats and over 30 sugar-free sweets. They can also cater for special events.
Back inside Smithfield Market, Manila The Filipino Store has been trading successfully for 10 years. They offer a well chosen range of Filipino foods and snacks and operate a popular loyalty card scheme.
Three Little Desserts are another source of sweet temptation within the Market – go on, treat yourself to a cupcake, a marshmallow and cream sandwich or an Oreo cake slice! *drools*
Books and Toys
Coffee and Heroes is quite simply heaven for comic book afficionados – because it is run by them!
Their store in Smithfield Market is packed with comic books, stock is regularly refreshed with the latest new releases, and there are loads of collectables and accessories for sale as well. And of course, there’s coffee – so plonk yourself down on the comfy sofa and chill!
Keats and Chapman is one of Belfast’s treasured independent second-hand bookstores. As well as being a treasure trove for avid readers and literary buffs, it’s also a great option for anyone wishing to reduce their environmental impact by buying second hand.
My Old Toy Box is another magical emporium of wonder within Smithfield Market.
It’s the country’s largest independent model toy shop and wherever you look, you see diecast toys, model kits, Matchbox cars, there are games, toys and miniatures here to keep the kids (both big and small!) quiet for hours. A must-see; pop in next time you’re in Belfast.
The bookshop at Belfast Exposed is a must for photographers – they sell self-published, limited edition and locally produced titles that cannot be found elsewhere, as well as classic photo books, photography magazines, journals and more.
Smithfield & Union
Although we have mentioned them in several of the categories above, we feel the need to highlight the fact that right in the heart of the Cathedral Quarter, we have around 30 fantastic local independent business selling their products and services – all under one roof at Smithfield Market!
Dwarfed in size by its neighbour Castle Court, we believe that it’s time for this unique Belfast shopping mall to step out of the shadows. Although it has been in the city for a long time, it is still thriving, with all of its units occupied by small, independent businesses (no mean feat for a retail mall on today’s high street!) and some have been here right from the start.
As one trader discussed with us in this article, St George’s Market has enjoyed publicity and popularity in recent years (and rightfully so, it is wonderful) but we should all be aware we have a chance to enjoy a fantastic local, independent trade offering at Smithfield Market, and in the shops nearby in the wider Smithfield and Union area.
As well as the products mentioned above, you can also find top-quality rugs of all colours and sizes, beautiful clothes for babies and young children, hair and beauty products, watch and computer repair, and sewing services.
We’ll be bringing you an article all about Smithfield in the very near future, but in the meantime, pay this characterful little hub a visit soon, support your local indie retailers, and tag us in your social posts when you do – #CQBelfast
Will you be popping to the shops in the Cathedral Quarter after reading this article? Let us know if you spot any great outlets we missed – we will keep this article updated to reflect as many of the great shops and retailers in the CQ as we can!
All pics unless otherwise stated: Carrie Davenport Photographic