Newest Review: ... a massive garden centre selling all ranges of plants, dobbies is not just all about plants and garden life though. Dobbies also has a ve... more
Common or garden shopping opportunities
Dobbies Garden Centre Chesterfield
Member Name: Happyjaw
Dobbies Garden Centre Chesterfield
Date: 20/11/08, updated on 20/11/08 (683 review reads)
Advantages: Phenomenal gardening centre range and other shops besides
Disadvantages: Lacking parking and loo's
There is a large aquatic centre, walled entirely with fish tanks full of stock, anemones, plants, crabs, fish of every description, tanks, ornaments, food and all the other paraphenalia. I can't imagine any fish enthusiast needing anything more than the stock held here.
I was very impressed with the illuminated tanks in slightly darkened areas which really means you focus on the fish and the gently waving fronds of plants and anemones in the tanks.
It's somehow quieter here, slightly out of the hustle and bustle and a really nice place to wander around. Less fun when heaving on a busy day but nevertheless pleasant.
There are indoor and outdoor plants of every type, vast rows of plants, grouped in variety and subspecies, the plantpots to put them in, the soil to bed them with and the tools with which to do it.
The stocks of plants stretch in many coloured rows for good distances outside, a veritable heaven for a garden enthusiast, but I'm not, so I admire at a distance and move on.
There's also an outside stock of fish to further augment the decorative ponds in the garden. Then followed with water features of endless possibilities and decorations within them, like the plastic ducklings to float in the water, which my twins took pleasure in distributing amongst the displays, evidently feeling that each water feature needed at least one duckling. It did brighten it up!
Back inside there are areas full of candles, cushions, windchimes, plantpots, gardening clothing, cards and gift wrap, table ware and dressing and a million and one other items including gifts for almost anyone. If you want pink trowels and the gloves to go with, this is the place to get them.
Because it's November as I write there is an emphasis on Christmas stock, most of the shopping area is flooded with trees of every kind, ornaments of every description and anything and everything else with Christmas connections.
All the tree ornaments are grouped in colour, making themed or colour matched trees very easy to achieve but for me there are not enough different designs to create a great tree, these are more like additions to existing collections.
There are full length trees at terrifying prices, one I saw, a six foot illuminated indoor fake tree at a whopping £149.99. Hardly pocket money.
I saw a little resin tree, bare of leaves but with the most attractive cloth books hanging by ribbons and a wise looking owl perched on top. It was right up my street but the books were £3.99 each, the tree £26.99 and the owl £3.99 too, a very attractive and unusual decoration but right out of my price range for frippery. It would look quite the thing in the library or study though.
There are darkened gazebo's full of the illuminated decorations for indoors and out, all fully lit and operational to gain full effect before purchase. My children were drawn to string of dancing Santa's and a very large outdoor illuminated sleigh.
On the more negative side, it is a little too cramped in some areas, difficult to pass with a double pushchair or when it's very busy.
There's one set of toilets for the main shopping area and one for Dobbies Garden Centre with around 3-4 loos in each, not too bad but far from ideal on busy days. I saw someone had abandoned an apple core and juice bottle on one of my many visits with my girls but it was gone the next time, which shows someone must take some care of them. They were certainly clean enough.
You'll find a number of other shops there, Julian Graves a FarmFoodhall, Antler, Shurpody, Glitz and a few others, mostly focusing on good food and good fabrics, it's not your everyday shopping though, there's a touch of the elitist about it.
You'll not often find a specialist shoe store and chiropractic/podiatry practice in any shopping centre but there's one here. Still, it's only a few yards away from Moshulu, another small shoe store but they focus on fashion rather than health.
There are clear and crisp lines and designs to the layout in Moshulu, easy delineation of areas which hold all the shoes in tidy display.
Though some of the shoes are very nice, some are nothing special, though they all seem to have prices which suggest they are exceptional.
The service is friendly enough and the environment pleasant, I just wish it was bigger.
Julian Graves is a small store in Dobbies and stocks a wide range of foodstuffs like dried fruit, nuts, seeds, crisps and other nibbles and ingredients.
The items which stood out today were large bottles of crystallised ginger at just £1.64 which is very good and Warner Hudson liquer chocolates at 2 for £6 in preparation for some early Christmas shoppers.
Besides consumables there are cups, plates, glasses and other crockery items besides, mostly of plain designs but with some exceptional and attractive items at reasonable prices.
The staff are pleasant and helpful and you can be sure to get a good service there.
Antler, a larger retail unit full to the brim of bags, suitcases, purses and all manner of luggage related goods.
Antler is a well known retailer of fine leather goods, reputedly good quality and designed for purpose. I have camera bags years old which have lasted endlessly and still look new.
The store is well laid out, spacious and grouped in design. All the natural hide collection together, all the black and white cow hide design together and so on.
Not all goods are leather though, there is plenty in cotton and canvas which further compliment the ranges available.
I especially liked a range of pink bags in all sizes and for all purposes, a sports bags, a handbag, a matching purse, luggage strap and various other items all in the same grade leather, the same attention to detail and unfortunately price tags to match. The largest bag was tagged at £149.99 and the rest of the range in similar prices.
The Farm Foodhall is a medium sized unit full of food, but not your everyday foodstuffs found in supermarkets, more deli style.
My outstanding memory from my most recent visit is the black and white harlequin pasta bows, hugely attractive but strangely not mouthwatering in the least.
There are rows and rows or chutneys, honeys, sauces and other preserved goods, beautifully packaged with traditional looking labels and glossy glass jars.
There are more fine and flavoured oils than I knew existed and the breads to dip in them, endless beers, wines and liquers and lots of fresh goods like venison sausages and ostrich steak, alongside unusual cheeses and other, less ordinary foods.
There are freezers with large tubs inside, separating frozen croissant pastries from the pain au chocolat pastry, all ready to be thrown in the over and baked to perfection. Many more oven bake products line up side by side to be purchased individually or by weight.
I found two fantastic stollens in there recently, both German is production and origination, one steeped in brandy and the other containing marzipan, both good quality items at reasonable prices. There's a fair amount of other seasonal produce besides but more to come closer to Christmas.
Glitz is all handbags and gladrags all for under £5. If you need necklaces, belts and bags or choices of a multitude of other accessories to bedeck your outfit or add the finishing touches to a look, this could well be the place.
It's only a small unit but it holds quite a lot of stock.
Each item is just £5, so for £15 you could have a new belt, bag and jewellery set.
The jewellery sets are predominantly made of silver plated metals with resin shapes, beads and faux precious stones set into them, purely dress materials and of no real value but pretty enough for a fiver.
Laura Ashley and Creative Crafts have taken up the larger units at the sides with a wide stock selection and good browsing spaces away from the crowds.
Creative Crafts has so much you could ever want from a craft store, paper, card, ink, stickers, embossing kits and so much more. The highlight of it for me was the dolls houses. The sell lots and lots of miniature furniture which is just divine! Tiny elegant bedroom sets and minute books to sit on the shelves. It's just incredible and the dolls houses are beautiful, though accordingly expensive.
However, there are more basic Ikea style house with clean lines and bright colours for younger enthusiasts and those more inclined to post dolls in strange places or climb on the house, my 3 year olds were enthralled with them.
There's a cafe in the garden centre and another in the main atrium, both serving the same types of tea and scones but with hot food options in the garden centre an nicer seating arrangements with leather sofas in comfortable groups as well as tables and chairs in the traditional cafe style.
The atrium cafe is amid shoppers and the noise and harsher lighting, somewhat more limited menu and only firm and upright cafe chairs, no chance to sink back into a squashy sofa and admire the world outside.
In extra points to the cafe in the garden centre, there's also a play area which features a large American Indian style bird with a climbing platform and a large slide which somehow keeps the kids busy for ages, allowing parents to relax in the sun or enjoy a coffee in peace.
The parking is plentiful, until it's close to Christmas or on a Bank Holiday, at which point it is far from sufficient.
There are disability and parent and child spaces but there are few and far between when it comes to finding one.
There are usually seasonal activities and decoration around in addition to the usual purchasing opportunities and you can find more about that and your local Dobbies at http://www.dobbies.com .
I like this place but I really prefer the nearby Dukeries for variety and prices.
This review may appear elsewhere in full or in part.
Summary: Elitist shopping but well worth it
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