Saturday, 19 August 2017

Small Is Beautiful

Regular readers know that we love pootling round Charity Shops - we have certainly found dozens in Norfolk this holiday. But it is sad that in so many towns, the high streets are partly big chains [Poundland, Boots, Superdrug, WHSmiths] partly CS, and more and more empty shops as business rates rise and owners of independent shops close as their owners struggle to make a living [let alone a profit]
But here are a few 'little shops' we have been to this week [we didn't actually purchase stuff in all of them] and I thought they were worth a mention.
An old friend, struggling with depression, mentioned she wanted to start reading the Bible again - but couldn't find one at home. I said I'd send her one - the sort which includes helpful links to "what to read when feeling sad/lonely/ill/happy etc" and a daily reading plan.
Green Pastures Bookshop [opposite Dereham Baptist Church] not only had a suitable one for me, but when I explained why I was buying it, the assistant gave me a jiffy bag so I could post it promptly.
Merv's Hot Bread Kitchen in Wymondham is great for sourdough loaves and other speciality breads- plus a great range of home made hot sausage rolls, bacon baps etc. Thank you Jon and Liz, for introducing us to this one!
Nuts'n'Bolts is a hardware store in Attleborough. Great range of products at good prices. Their cookware stuff is at prices to match, and sometimes beat Lakeland. For instance - those Maslin Pans - if you cannot find them for a fiver at a Yard Sale, and don't want to spent £50 or more on the pukka Kilner pan - they are half that price here!
Susan's Work Basket is another treasure hidden away in Attleborough. Staffed by enthusiastic women who certainly know their wool and fabric, the range of haberdashery is brilliant. And I spotted some Scandi Xmas fabric I'd seen in John Lewis last week - but cheaper!
Finally Aldridge Crafts, also in Attleborough. This is run by Jane and Susan, and they were runners up in a recent "Norfolk Independent Craft Retailer" Competition. Jane is a real crafting specialist, and we chatted away about die cuts, stamping, patchment craft, jewellery-making and more. She has a slot on the Hochanda Craft Channel on Tuesday week. I shall try and catch that. 
Many of these shops also sell online [not the bakers, obviously - bacon baps don't travel well]
It is not true that the big stores are necessarily cheaper - and often the personal service from independent retailers means you can obtain specialist items which would be too much trouble for a chain store to order in. I like the opportunity to look at products, feel the wools, taste samples of the food, assess the weight of the tools, and judge the quality for myself. You cannot do that when you buy online. 
I hope that Jack Of All Trades in Wimborne finds a buyer soon, and doesn't disappear.  The lady who runs the local Post Office up the road from us here, in Hockering, is retiring soon, and looking for someone to take over this vital village amenity. We were sorry when the little cookshop in Fakenham closed some months back.
It is a case of 'use it or lose it' with these retailers. I am grateful to all those who have taken time to find the items I am wanting to buy, and given me lots of free advice! I wish them well - and hope that these good little shops are able to survive in this difficult economic climate.


  1. Hi Angela I totally agree with using smaller shops where you can - I think they are far more interesting. That's why I love going shopping in Stamford and they have a proper market there as well. Much more interesting. Although the bigger stores have their place. However like you I have to touch, see and evaluate whether or not that piece of fabric is going to be ideal for this project or that embroidery thread is just the colour to go on that. However I fear the biggest threat to the independent shops is the Internet. With regard to the origins of the word maslin it can mean either a brass kettle or pot or a mixture of different wheats

    Glad you had a good holiday and that you have enjoyed your pottering and foraging time. Lovely post. Tricia

  2. Thanks Tricia. I enjoy your blog too [impressed with your Christmas plans] I have not been to Stamford for over 30 years, I love proper markets! Thanks for the extra info re Maslin pans. I saw another 2nd hand one today... But resisted the urge to buy it. One is enough!

  3. I think I have four at last count; my first one which is massive, two kilner ones and a stainless steel one. You can never have too many maslin pans. Its the jars I have the greatest trouble with. Pattypan x

  4. Internet shopping has played a huge part in killing off small independent shops.
    People would go and choose what they want, in a shop that has to pay wages, rates, utilities AND for the stock these people are so happily fingering, then go and buy it cheaper from an internet retailer that has a fraction of the overheads.
    Then you have the supermarkets, that used to sell only food and washing powder, now selling everything else.
    It must be what people want - to end up with only massive supermarkets and the internet....


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