Following a lovely visit to the North Norfolk town of Holt last weekend, it got me thinking about the beauty of local and independent shops. We are wholeheartedly spoilt here, not only in this region, but all over the UK.
From family-owned bakeries and independent cafés to wild and remote garden centres and unique boutiques, there is such a wonderful array of shops to visit and choose from. Shops with a history and a story to tell, rather than an existing empire determined to expand. Filled with hand picked items, it is these shops which mean something to their owners – a livelihood or course of ancestry. They welcome us with warm hello’s and genuine see you soon’s which make us feel special and part of something unique.
They are such an essential part of so many quaint towns and villages and even big cities, and yet we often hear stories of their untimely demise. Why is it that despite such a choice of independent cafés to choose from, many of us still pick up our morning coffee from Starbucks or Cafe Nero? I know I’m guilty of this too, and when I got to thinking about it, I put it down to ease and convenience, which is such a pitiful—but I suspect rather common—excuse.
Yet in aim to rectify my ways I met a friend for coffee at a wonderful cafe called Urban Jungle. Filled with plants and mismatched tables, it really is a great spot just outside of Norwich. What’s more, we sampled a cafetiere of their speciality coffee and I can honestly say it’s one of the best cups I’ve ever had. Sometimes quality and experience outweighs the need for convenience.
We must start to acknowledge the independent and wonderfully unique establishments that surround us by offering them our business and spreading the work because when we spot an up for sale sign propped up in the window, we’ll be sorry we didn’t support them. Who knows, you might even discover a new favourite spot for coffee, cake or gift-buying along the way.