Ipswich's Independent Gems
I have often wondered what makes a town unique. Why do people visit? What are they looking for? There are the obvious reasons, castles, cathedrals and museums. However, from my own experience on visiting new towns it's very often the independent shopping scene that I seek out, and increasingly seems to be what our visitors to Ipswich want as well.
The smaller quirkier retailer invariably can be found popping up in areas of a town centre when the bigger retailers fear to tread. Leaving the savvy small business to be let loose from the constraints of a style book from Head Office.
As shopping polarises to out of town retail parks and online, high streets can find themselves in a bit of a pickle. However, with the right mix of businesses and cooperation and playing to their strengths, high streets can find their groove again.
The Saints (St Peter's and St Nicholas Streets), are a stone's throw away from the Waterfront and they have done just that. A thoroughfare running north-south linking our town centre with the historic and picturesque Waterfront. We've embraced our heritage and many great small businesses can now be found in some of the town's most interesting buildings. I imagine Ipswich's most famous son, Thomas Wolsey, may have pounded our very pavements in days gone by (or at least members of his family might!).
The Saints is now a vibrant hub of over 50 indie businesses and eateries. A perfect place to visit on its own, or en route to other destinations the town has to offer.
In my experience most small business businesses are passionate and incredibly knowledgeable about their products and services.
I've met my candle maker, discussed and sniffed aroma combinations until my nose gets overloaded with scent. I've watched some of our card designers at work, getting to the heart of their inspirations.
I handpick all my products and try to road test them all. Let the small retailer share their experiences and anecdotes, guide, advise and amuse you, after all good shopping should be a two way process, between the customer and salesperson.
On the Saints you can eat cuisines from around the world, Zaika (Indian), Kwan Thai (Thai), Locanda di Palma (Italian) to name but a few. Buy new outfits and accessories (Marianna, Cake and Catwalk, Isobella's and the Italian Shirt shop).
Even learn a new skill (Jenny Wrens Yarn and Crafty Baba), and shop the latest interiors and gift trends (Mauds Attic, House in Town and Loveone). This autumn embrace the Hygge, the Danish concept of cosines and intimacy. I've been discussing that a lot lately in Applaud Cafe, our artisan coffee shop, over a hot chocolate especially as the days shorten. Any excuse!
St Peter's Street is also home to the Saints Festive Street Market, Sunday 20th November running from 10am - 4pm, playing host to many great local artisans and all our shops will be open. So put it in your diary.
So next time you venture into Ipswich pop along to the Saints. Come and meet the butcher, the baker, the candle (stick) maker.... and the florist, the barber, the knitter, the chef and the barista!
Cathy Frost is the owner of Loveone, Ipswich’s most unique gift shop. Loveone has been in Ipswich for 6 years, offering Ipswich shoppers an alternative to the standard high street gift shops.
Find out more on their website - www.loveone.co.uk
The Saints are a 10 minute walk from our hotel, the Salthouse Harbour.