Over the past couple of months, due to Covid-related lockdowns and restrictions, many small businesses have been struggling. Independent shops, especially, have been hard hit, and many are being forced to close because they cannot generate the revenue to pay their employees and landlords. These closures not only hurt the business owners and employees, but also make it easier for chains and large corporations to take over, offering lower-quality products and lower-paying jobs. As an independent start-up, The Oxford Blue feels a responsibility to show solidarity with other independent businesses, and to work together through these difficult times. Due to these factors, and in celebration of our links to this wonderful city, The Oxford Blue has decided to partner with local small businesses to offer promotions, helping them survive the pandemic. 

We have compiled a list of our favourite local independent businesses to create a discount scheme, to encourage our readers to shop at these locations, providing them with much-needed revenue. Naturally, the discounts also help you afford these high-quality goods, from the delicious gelato at iScream to the sportswear at Blue Blood, that might otherwise not be accessible to everyone at university. To further support both The Blue and the businesses we list here, we encourage you to share this information as widely as possible. Do keep in mind though that just because The Blue has partnered with these businesses, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t sample other businesses. After all, our overarching goal with these promotions is to help support all of Oxford’s unique, independent shops in their time of need.

Here is our list:

  • iScream Gelateria
  • Blue Blood Sports
  • Brown’s Café
  • Oxford Market Barbers
  • Artisan Café
  • Vaults and Garden Café
  • Queen’s Lane Coffee House
  • Fantastea

All businesses have step-free access.

Oxford Covered Market

iScream Gelateria

Get 10% off by saying that you read The Oxford Blue.

Website: https://www.iscreamoxford.co.uk 

Located in the Covered Market (where you can find many other unique boutiques and get lost exploring for hours), iScream is known throughout Oxford for its impressive array of flavours. Technically a gelateria instead of an ice cream shop, it shares a space with the Wicked chocolate shop, but the gelato is certainly the main attraction. With a focus on local, free range, and Fairtrade ingredients (the cutlery and cups are compostable as well), you can find out how their cows are cared for on their website. The website also provides an in-depth description of how gelato is different from – and superior to – ice cream.

Blue Blood Sports

Get a 20% discount from October 6th to October 31st when you produce your bodcard and mention the discount code ‘BLUE20’.  

Website: https://www.bluebloodsports.co.uk

Also located in the Covered Market, Blue Blood Sports is a specialist provider of personalised and standard sportswear and accessories. Known for their local expertise – all but one of the team grew up playing team sports around Oxford – they are familiar both with mainstream and other Oxford sports. Be sure to check out their huge range of sporting accessories as well as their kit! 

NB: This discount is not available on restringing services, website purchases or team kit/stash, and cannot be used in conjunction with another offer, or with items already reduced in price. 

Brown’s Café

Get 20% off Monday-Thursday, 8 am – 4 pm, during October by saying that you read The Oxford Blue.

The third of our Covered Market stalls, Brown’s Café is a great place to relax, meet people, and have a cuppa. They are vegetarian friendly, with vegan and gluten-free options to boot. Their menu offers wholesome café fare but the quality is impeccable and the atmosphere is simple, homely, and welcoming.  Be sure to try their famous apple pie – a perfect autumn treat during Fifth Week (or anytime, really).

Oxford Market Barbers

Get haircuts for £11 (walk-ins only) during the next six months using code “OMBOB” (Oxford Market Barbers Oxford Blue).

Website: https://www.oxfordbarbers.co.uk 

To be found in the Covered Market (along with many of the other shops on this list), the Oxford Market Barbers are exactly what the name suggests: a traditional barbershop in Oxford. Known for their stylish cuts and low prices (even before the Oxford Blue discount), this is the go-to place for mens haircuts. They are experienced in all sorts of hairstyles (long and short), fades, and beard trims. Check out their Instagram to get a feel of the place.

Central Oxford

Artisan Café (formerly known as Croissant Beurre)

Get 20% off during October if you visit after 2pm on a weekday and produce your student card. 

Located in a historic Grade II listed building on St Aldates and recently rebranded from Croissant Beurre, Artisan Café is a student-friendly cafe with excellent coffees and great meal or tea-time deals which are also vegetarian or vegan friendly. Convenient for a quick pit stop before or after a walk around Christ Church meadows, the simple but welcoming menu rarely misses the spot and the strong coffee ideal for pre-deadline preparation. 

Vaults and Garden Café

Get 20% off Monday-Friday for the next four weeks—just say that you read The Oxford Blue.

Website: https://www.thevaultsandgarden.com 

Conveniently located in Radcliffe Square (behind the Church of St Mary, with a gorgeous view of the RadCam), this beautiful cafe is a must-visit for all students. While fostering local business partnerships, minimising their environmental impact, and championing healthy (and tasty) eating, they somehow manage to keep all of their prices under 10 quid. They serve a variety of breakfast and lunch options, and for a sweet snack be sure to check out their special Cream Tea menu (every day after 2:30). Vaults and Garden uses local organic ingredients from Worton Organic and Sandy Lane farms, and have won multiple sustainability awards.

Queen’s Lane Coffee House

Earn 20% off orders over £5, Monday-Friday during October, by saying that you read The Oxford Blue

Website: http://www.qlcoffeehouse.com 

Queen’s Lane Coffee House is famous first and foremost for being the oldest continually working coffee house in Europe, having been founded in 1654. While the history is certainly impressive, the wide array of food options should not be overlooked. With a focus on English and Turkish food (halal and vegetarian options are available), this is a perfect spot to grab a bite to eat. It is near enough the RadCam and other libraries to be a convenient spot to eat, and the sheer number of menu options means you will never get tired of eating here.


Get 10% off by saying that you read The Oxford Blue.

Bubble tea – what more is there to say? A few things, actually: Fantastea was ranked as the 8th most popular bubble tea shop in the UK in 2019. They also serve ice cream, (check out their Bubble Wrap – it literally looks like massive bubble-wrap made out of ice cream cone). But most importantly: their bubble tea is heavenly. Liquid joy, with little bubbles of ecstasy. Conveniently located on the High Street near the RadCam and Bodleian, this is the perfect location for a study break, or to grab some refreshment with your friends. 

Discount Map

Keep your eyes peeled for future discounts!

Zaman Keinath-Esmail

Zaman Keinath-Esmail (she/her) is one of the Editors-in-Chief at The Oxford Blue, having previously been Senior Opinions Editor and Senior Columns Editor. She studies Physics, sits on various society and college committees, and generally advocates for equal rights for everyone. When not in Oxford, she can be found in Washington, DC.

Elizabeth Reynard

Elizabeth Reynard is one of the Editors-in-Chief at The Oxford Blue. She reads English Language and Literature at Trinity College and is in her second year. When not in Oxford, Elizabeth spends her time in North Yorkshire debating performative feminism with an unwilling audience and writing about gender politics.

Daria Maria Koukoleva

Daria is a Law with French Law student at Christ Church, studying at Panthéon-Assas Université in Paris. She is a former Marketing Director at The Oxford Blue and current Board Director. Passionate about professional access and feminist art, her works can be found at @redwomenoxford on Instagram and in global policy publishing on The Oxford Strategy Review.