Royal Quays Outlet Centre: Out of town outlets
We first came here many years ago when the centre had not long been open, and were a little disappointed, but put that down to the fact that so far only a few shops had moved into the complex. So this Easter we decided it was time to give the Royal Quays another chance.
The location, not far from the North Sea ferry terminal, is not especially convenient nor is there much else in the area (apart from a “Wet & Wild” attraction) so you’ll probably be making a special journey here for the shopping, as we did. And is it worth it? On the whole I would say not, unless you’re looking for a specific item that you’ve sourced to one of the outlets here. The list of these, though not long, does include some popular high street favourites as well as some less well known brands, but we were disappointed by the small size of the Marks & Spencer outlet in particular and by the very limited range of stock available. Certainly the Royal Quays did nothing on this visit to compete with our favourite bargain hunting ground, Boundary Mill.
Plus points though include a pleasant “town square” environment in which to shop, a few distractions for the kids (pet rabbits in an enclosure and a small merry-go-round), and ample free parking.
What to buy: The outlets here include:
~ Marks & Spencer, as already mentioned
~ Body Shop
~ Carphone Warehouse
~ Clarks (shoes)
~ Cotton Traders
~ Kurt Muller
~ Le Creuset
~ Past Times
What to pay: Our only purchases were a cardigan in Marks & Spencer for me (£15) and a polo shirt in Cotton Traders for Chris (£9) – both good value but not worth the drive out here, in our opinion. Still, you might do better!
Boundary Mill: Calling all bargain hunters!
Boundary Mill Shiremoor is one of a small UK chain of discount stores and is a great place to hunt for bargains, especially in sale time! Their claim is that they are "the largest quality mill store of its kind in the UK. Founded in 1983, our philosophy is to offer our customers quality branded goods at discount prices up to 75% off rrp."
There is a huge car park here and as it's well out of town that's the best way to travel - not least because you may need a car to carry all your bargains home! There's also a cafe but I've never had anything there though my mother in law says the coffee is reasonable (quality and price). Apparently free croissants and coffee are served between 10.00 - 11.00 AM on a Sunday, when the shop is open for browsing only until trading can begin at 11.00.
What to buy: Goods on offer include ladies' and men's clothing and household goods. Lots of big names are featured such as Jaegar, Hobbs, Kaliko, Eastex, Alexon, Planet, French Connection, etc. etc. You need to allow plenty of time to shop around for the best bargains but there are plenty to be had. The best deals are on the dearer products such as coats and suits, and in the household department where good quality china and glass can be bought for well under the high street price.
What to pay: Much less than elsewhere! On a recent trip there I bought a Jaegar cotton and cashmere jumper, recommended retail price £99, for just £22, and an Alex and Co cotton top, recommended retail price £35, for £17. On the same visit my mum in law picked up an Alexon jacket reduced from £200 to £58, while Chris got a jumper reduced from £35 to £19. Past visits have yielded a Hobbs linen jacket at less than half the high street price for me, and an Eastex trouser suit, similarly discounted, for mum in law.
Oldhitz: Vinyl records
I like to share a tip sent to me by VT-member Nettyfitz.
It's about The Oldhitz record shop specialising in oldies from 1912 - 1990
They carry 7" singles/juke box/EP's/LP's and even 78/s in the Rock/pop/jazz/soul/blues genre.
What to buy: Records.Related to:
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The Back Page: For sports fans
This is a must-visit shop for any sports fan. It has an extensive range of books, all with a sporting theme, and many other sports-related items too.
What to buy: The focus is firstly on Newcastle United (inevitably!), secondly on football in general and thirdly on other sports. There is a large selection of old football programmes featuring most of the league teams in England and Scotland, and a similar range of fanzines. There are usually also some fascinating football memorabilia on sale, again with a particular emphasis on Newcastle United – on a recent visit I spotted a framed Newcastle shirt signed by Alan Shearer (for £230) and another, unframed, signed by several players for £200. Other items include postcards of Newcastle and of football stadia around the country, black and white Newcastle United flags, mugs and key rings and much more.
The shop also runs a travel club for Newcastle fans wishing to go to away matches, with very reasonable fares on their coaches. And if you don’t have a chance to visit they do a very good and comprehensive mail order service from their website. I know I sound as if I’m on commission but I’m not – it’s just a very good shop run by people who know and have a passion for their subject!
What to pay: Prices vary from 50p for a postcard to several hundred pounds for signed shirts, as described above. Many of the books are signed too, and these usually cost no more than an unsigned copy from elsewhere.
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Grainger Market: Traditional city market
Although it has been recently refurbished, this market in the centre of town retains much the same character and range of stalls that it has held for years. It’s a good place to come for fresh fruit and vegetables, and there are several butchers selling locally produced meat from the farms of Northumberland. But in addition to these there are a number of idiosyncratic Newcastle establishments. These include the Weigh House, where you can be weighed for a charge of 10p – many locals go regularly to check up on their weight. There is also a very early branch of Marks & Spencer, dating back to 1895 when it was a Penny Bazaar – this is the world's smallest Marks and Spencer store. These days the items on sale cost rather more than a penny but there are still end of range bargains to be had.
Another long-standing institution is Robinsons, a second-hand book stall, while the Northern Optical Company has been here since 1894. You’ll also find a couple of good haberdashery stalls (fabrics and sewing materials), a Chinese foodstuffs shop (a recent addition) and tobacconists, including the aptly-named Cheap Tab Shop – “tab” is Geordie for cigarette.
By the way, you may also find locals referring to this as the "covered-in market", for obvious reasons, but the signs all say Grainger Market so don't be misled.
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Central Arcade: City centre elegance
This lovely Edwardian shopping arcade in the centre of the city makes a great contrast to the more modern shopping experience of the Eldon Square complex. It is located in the Central Exchange Building, which fills the triangle made by Grainger Street, Grey Street and Market Street. This building dates from 1906, when they were rebuilt following a fire. The arcade opens on to all three of the surrounding streets, with ornate frontages dating from 1840. The arcade is decorated with Burmantofts tiles in shades of yellow, brown and buff.
Nowadays the shops here are modern ones. One of the most noteworthy is Windows, a Newcastle institution, which stocks a comprehensive range of sheet music and musical instruments as well as CDs. It’s a good place to find recordings by local artists such as Lindisfarne, Kathryn Tickell, Alex Glasgow or Billy Fane.
Other shops in the arcade at present include Lush (all natural soaps and other bath-time goodies), Office (one of my favourite shoe shop chains) and Space NK. But even if you’re not in the mood for shopping it’s worth a visit to see this beautiful relic of Victorian Newcastle.
Newcastle United Club shops: Dress like a Toon fan!
As you walk round Newcastle you're bound to be struck by the large number of people (men and women, boys and girls) who wear the Newcastle United football strip. I'm not talking only about people on their way to a football match, but shopping on a Saturday morning, going to the pub on a Friday night, to church on a Sunday morning (yes, really!) and so on. If you'd like to blend in, or just want a sporting-related souvenir of your visit here, head for one of the official Newcastle United club shops to be found in several places in the town:
~ at the football stadium, naturally (and with the biggest selection by some way)
~ in the Monument Mall, near the Monument and Metro station of the same name
~ in the Eldon Square and Metro shopping centres, although these last two are rather small and cramped
What to buy: The obvious choice is a black and white top, but for something cheaper you could look for a scarf or woolly hat, pictures of the players, a mug or beer glass, pen or key chain ...
Or if you really want to proclaim yourself a fan, it's possible to decorate a whole room in black and white stripes ;)
What to pay: A short-sleeved football shirt is currently £30, a long-sleeved version £45. Woolly hats cost from £4 to £10 and scarves £6 or £7. A mug is £4 and a pencil 50p, so there really is something for every purse
Along Northumberland Street: Shopping in town
If you’re not keen on shopping malls there’s still plenty of choice on the streets of Newcastle. The main shopping street is probably Northumberland Street, which runs between the Haymarket and Monument Metro stations. Shops along here include H&M, Marks & Spencer, W H Smith, Next, HMV and many other well-known chains. There’s also one of Newcastle’s largest department stores, Fenwick’s. The windows here are one of the highlights of a Geordie child’s Christmas as they do excellent displays with moving figures telling a traditional story.
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Eldon Square: Shopping galore!
If you go to Eldon Square in the city centre of Newcastle, you'll find everything you could ever want. It's a pedestrianized area, with a lot of lovely shops. There's the indoor mall as well as boutique shops and Monument Mall. Its a great place for everything, and there are lots of restaurants around as well, so after a hard day's shopping, you can plop yourself into any one of the surrounding restaurants and revitalize with some food!
What to buy: everything! clothes, shoes, sports goods, toys, house wares.....
Tynemouth Market: Covered market, stationed here
Every Saturday morning (until about 3PM)
Tynemouth station is transformed by the Market that nestles in this wonderfully restored Victorian station.
Stalls range from toys to bric-a-brac, antiques, jewelery, food, cd's and what-not. There is also a stallholder who sells very high quality 'realistic' dolls that retail for up to a thousand pounds or so.
There is also a farmers market once a month at the same location.
Entry is free - just step off the train.
P.S the website listed gives a good view of the market in action
What to buy: We found it to be excellent value. Some stall wil negotaite (especially for larger items) whilst others have a fixed-price policy.
Monument Mall et all: Shopping around the Monument
The Monument Area of Newcastle is the city's commerical center. There's tons of stores clustered around the tall Earl Grey Monument, named after the prime minister who championed the Great Reform Bill of 1832, which improved working conditions and was a large step towards greater democracy in England (and also had the famous tea named after him--drink up).
A few feet away from the Earl Grey Monument is the busy Monument Mall, which specializes in everything and anything, from clothing botiques, food courts, music and book shops.
Also around the Monument are internet cafes, hair salons, restaurants, pubs, the excellent Grainger Market on Grainger St., and tourist offices. This is also a good people watching location, where you can sit down at a cafe table and watch all the people pass by with their shopping bags in hand and their heads glued to their cell phones.
Katmandu: All the pretty thingies!
KATMANDU is a very trendy shop, or rather two shops really, not far from Grey's Monument (on the edge of the square that's right around the corner somewhere.....) - it offers interesting clothes (a little expensive maybe), shiny jewelry, hair colours, out-of-.the-ordinary candles and other home accessoirs (like the window thingy in the picture). Hail the glitter and shiny stuff!
The Royal Quays
An excellent selection of outlet shops close to the ferry terminal with Nike, Mexx, Calvin Klein, Wrangler etc. all to be found there.
Grainger Street Market
The Grainger St indoor shopping market has been going since 19th century and is open every day except Sunday. It’s a nice contrast to all the high street style shops in Newcastle City Centre.
Newcastle FC Shop: Toon Army Shop
In the Monument Mall, is a two storey shop dedicated to all that is Newcastle football Club. As is usual for the club shop you can buy replica shirts, etc..Related to:
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