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Utility – nick-nacks paradise

Jennifer Leeming knows where she’ll be shopping for tricky relatives this Christmas...

Published on December 7th 2010.


Utility – nick-nacks paradise

Where is it?

Utility - Liverpool Gift Boutique
86 Bold Street
Liverpool
L1 4HY
Tel: 0151 707 9919

Utility - Home Store
60 Bold Street
Liverpool
L1 4EA
Tel: 0151 708 4192

Utility - Liverpool One Gift Boutique
8 Paradise Place
Liverpool
L1 8BQ
Tel: 0151 702 9116

Utility - Preston Gift Boutique
9-10 Miller Arcade
Church Street
Preston
PR1 2RY
Tel: 01772 889953

History:
Utility’s owners started their careers with Coffee Union - a cafe located in the famously vibrant and exciting Bold Street - but soon decided that coffee making wasn’t where their future lay.

They decided to open up a shop selling a mixture of homeware and gifts, and Utility was born. Eleven years later, with two stores now on Bold Street, another in Preston and, more recently, the opening of a huge new gift boutique in the prime location of Liverpool One. Utility has gone from strength to strength and continues to grow to this day.

What does it sell?
To call the range of products varied would be a massive understatement. Utility stock everything from quirky prints, novelty gifts and beautifully handmade cards in their gift boutiques, to top of the range designer furniture and futuristic utensils in the kitchen and home stores.

There aren’t many stores that offer well-known brands like the ever-popular Burt’s Bees and internationally renowned Eames furniture designs alongside ‘The Marmite Cookbook’ and a wall-hook in the shape of a budgie, but Utility makes eclecticism seem simple and fun.

It also stocks a beautiful selection of distinctive jewellery, and fascinating books that are a must-have item for any coffee table. Manager Polly told me that Hazel Bee products have unexpectedly ‘flown off the shelves’, especially their uniquely hilarious cards.

Who shops there?
Everyone I know. Utility is one of my personal favourite haunts and never fails to offer individual and affordable gifts. Polly confirmed that “anyone and everyone” comes to Utility, with the hugely wide range of prices meaning that not only can students find a brilliant present or decoration to make that grotty bedroom a little bit more chic and fun, but you can also find a stunning piece of furniture for the trendy homeowners looking to invest in a statement item.

Why shop there?
If you’re bored of buying the same old presents or want something fresh and individual to jazz up your home, then there literally is nowhere better than Utility. An Aladdin’s cave of things you never knew you needed but suddenly can’t live without, Utility puts the fun back in to shopping. With its cool boutique vibe, it’s almost impossible to leave without purchasing anything.

It’s fantastic to see that even with their blossoming success, Utility is still a store that selects less mainstream or well-known designers to showcase, offering an opportunity to discover something completely new and different. They also stay true to their roots, offering a collection of ‘Scouseware’ ceramics - all proudly proclaiming famous song lyrics and images of their beloved city.

Future:
Polly believes that the future of Utility is to keep expanding until there are “Utilities all round the country.” However, until that day, their beautifully presented website, which has been running since 2004, continues to grow, and remains a powerful tool, opening Utility up to business outside of the North West.

Verdict:
It isn’t difficult to see that I love this shop, but my passion is not unfounded. Once you’ve discovered Utility you’ll never again find yourself struggling to buy gifts or something to brighten up a dark day.

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