Amid the media’s obsession with Durham’s empty shops – most recently based on data that turned out to be wrong – it’s sometimes hard to get across the message about how many fantastic, very-much-alive independent shops we have in the city.
Durham Market Hall alone is home to 40 independent businesses, and remains consistently almost fully occupied. Meanwhile, there are many other independent gems across the city centre – including shops, cafes, bars and more – with new ones opening, even in the current challenging conditions.
One of those new arrivals is Malin & Mac, a beautiful new gift shop that opened next to Costa in Prince Bishops a month ago, stocking what it describes as “the finest locally produced, handmade and ethically sourced gifts and home decor”.
The business partners behind Malin & Mac, Mark and Laura, are both crafters themselves: Laura creates lovely gift items from reclaimed wood, while Mark produces bespoke laser-cut gifts, keepsakes and artworks under the Tiny Acorn brand.
Now, they have come together to set up Malin & Mac as a new community interest company (CIC), to support and showcase nearly 30 County Durham suppliers – some of them selling for the first time on the high street.
Malin & Mac is not just a place to find delightful and unusual gifts, though – Laura and Mark have used their creative talents to also fashion a truly memorable store interior – assisted by the team at Prince Bishops, who are committed to welcoming more independents into the scheme.
It was a pleasure to visit Mark at new independent gift shop Malin & Mac today, which opened at @PrinceBishops three weeks ago. It showcases nearly 30 County #Durham crafters, many making their first appearance on the high street. And the interior is just magical! #LoveDurham pic.twitter.com/SvnaUREMt1
— Graham Soult FIPM (@soult) October 15, 2020
Unit 23 previously housed the phone shop Three, but head there now and the interior of the shop is completely unrecognisable.
Featuring a dramatic staircase, display fixtures made from upcycled wood, stunning bespoke light fittings and a magical fairy-lit tree, Malin & Mac is surely laying claim to be Durham’s most Instagrammable shop.
Mark was one of the first people to get in touch when our Indie Durham City project was originally mentioned in the local press, and it’s been a real pleasure to follow Malin & Mac’s journey from brave idea to fantastic reality – and, we hope, to have done our bit to provide support and encouragement along the way.
Remember, if you are a Durham independent business, there’s still time to take advantage of the free support available from the Indie Durham City project, thanks to funding from City of Durham Parish Council.
Just get in touch via the online form, and you could yet be our next cover star!
Remember too, if you are someone looking at opening a business in Durham, we can help connect you up with landlords who have available space – which can sometimes be more affordable than you might imagine.
And if you’re a County Durham crafter interested in being featured at Malin & Mac, get in touch with Mark and Laura – they are always on the lookout for exciting and distinctive new suppliers.