This December we should all be reducing our carbon footprint when it comes to gift buying. It's the sensible decision on a number of levels.
Having just seen COP26 come and go in November, with it's key message to get every one of us to rethink our consumption of stuff, it's now a focus of many of us to embrace the need to reduce our personal impact on the planet in order to safeguard our kids future.
But we also need to think about how Covid is on the increase yet again.
SHOPPING LOCALLY IS THE RIGHT THING TO DO
Staying local and supporting local businesses near you will help to keep them 'local', help your local economy thrive, reduce your carbon footprint and reduce the spread of the pandemic. A win, win for everyone!
With all this in mind, I got thinking! Why not share my experiences with my favourite Suffolk based businesses with you all. With Christmas just around the corner here are my picks to help you find great local businesses that are all doing their bit to support 'greener' business practices. My 'Top Ten Local Suffolk Businesses for December' covers chocolate, coffee, soap, smells (good ones), destination retailers and booze. So just about every gift option covered!
You will adore them all. I do!
10. The Framlingham Soap Company
I stumbled on this wonderful brand whilst visiting The Neathouse Cafe and Shop in Dennington near Woodbridge (not on this list but a near miss, so please give it a look at https://www.facebook.com/theneathouse). This business started after a career change for the owner Emma Easter in 2020. All the products are handmade and hand-wrapped and just gorgeous.
They do an amazing range of soaps in their 'Classic' range and I have yet to try the 'Olive Oil' range. They also do some amazing gift sets too and have a number of Eco products. We have 4 bars and will be getting more. Our guests love them too. The products just ooze quality and have clearly been made with lots of love. Get some.
Image: Copyright Framlingham Soap Company
9. Marimba Chocolatier
When we first arrived in Suffolk in January 2018, one of the first local businesses we discovered was Marimba in Sudbury. Back then they had a chocolate shop and a lovely cafe staffed by a really lovely group of people. Since then they have expanded with a shop in Bury St Edmunds.
Image: Copyright Marimba
The hot chocolate range is amazing and my son can't pass either store without buying his favourite milk chcoclate bar and then you just have to have a hot choclate, don't you? When you have lovely people providing a great service and delicious products created locally, what's not to love? Put some Marimba on your gift list.
Branches: Sudbury and Bury St Edmunds
8. Paddy and Scott's
My first cup of coffee in Suffolk was a Paddy and Scott's. I was so relieved after moving from London that you could still get a great Americano without compromising with a national chain (yuck!).
Image: Copyright Tim Leggett / via EADT
I had the good fortune to meet Scott Russell back in 2012 in London after I expressed an interest in opening a coffee shop to a friend who knew him. Unfortunately, I never did open my own coffee shop!
This brand has their own farm in Africa, has set-up a school for the workers, protects their workforce there and has a genuine approach to ethical trading, being local, supporting good causes and generally being lovely people.
A good coffee is a must for me when I am out and the good news is many local cafe's stock Paddy and Scotts coffee and serve it. So, no long searches for one of their own cafe's. Try Langams in Stowmarket or The Deben Coffee House in Debenham which are just two of my favourites.
Location: Ambition House, Neptune Quay, Ipswich, Suffolk, IP4 1QJ
7. Onion Vinyl
Vintage is king at the moment and I, like many, have got the vinyl bug again. I discovered Onion Vinyl in Felixstowe one Saturday in the summer after the lockdown ended. It's run by
Image: Copyright Onion Vinyl Facebook
Stephen, a lovley chap who, after a chat, I discovered helps charities and local good causes and was a really nice bloke. His store is a vinyl haven but is really well priced. On my first visit I bought 4 albums and Stephen gave me two more to try for free, which was super kind. I never thought a trip to the beach could be so reawarding. Check out Stephen's shop. The memories you will find there are priceless.
Location: 19 Orwell Rd, Felixstowe, Suffolk, IP11 7EP
6. Emzo Cafe and Gift Shop
This well stocked gift shop was a real local find. Literally up the road from our barn, it's packed with interesting finds. Some local, some not so, but all are sure to give your Christmas gift buying a real boost.
Image: Copyright Emzo
When you marry up a good gift shop with a cafe, you can't lose can you? Grab breakfast or a brilliant lunch and a good coffee. Beware, most of Suffolk know about this one so it can get busy, but even with a wait it is well worth it.
Location: Station Road, Bacton, Stowmarket, Suffolk, IP14 4NH
5. The Woodbridge Kitchen Company
Located about half way along Woodbridge's Thoroughfare, The Woodbridge Kitchen Company is an aladdins cave of kitchen must-haves. Our first purchase was in 2018. Every good Suffolk kitchen should have a glass cake dome and since moving to Suffolk we have been baking far too many cakes. The cake dome was a bargain.
Image: Copyright Woodbridge Kitchen Company via Twitter
Since then we've found lots of great things for our new kitchen. It's not all locally sourced but it's a great retail experience in a lovely town. And the people are really lovely too.
Location: 7 The Thoroughfare, Woodbridge, Suffolk, IP12 1AA
4. Hog and Hen
When your school run involves seeing hundreds of free range hens in the Suffolk countryside every day, life can't be that bad can it? On the Debenham Road near Stonham Aspal you will find Hog and Hen. Besides the roaming hens, you will find a brilliant farm shop and cafe. When I visited for the first time in November the welcome from the owner was wonderful.
I picked up some Suffolk tea, Paddy and Scott's coffee and a few other things and stopped for a quick coffee in their cafe.
Image: Copyright Wood Farm Barns and Hog and Hen
There are lots of locally sourced and home grown products and produce with some very popular Suffolk brands like Stokes Sauces. There is even some delicious freshly baked bread from Woodbridge. Whilst drinking my coffee I watched the owners serving locals and they knew their names, their conversation was like they were old friends. For a Londoner like me, thats incredible to see. How lovely to be so valued as a customer? If only all retail experiences were this good.
Location: Mill Green Farm, Debenham Road, Stonham Aspal, Suffolk, IP14 6BZ
3. Suffolk Food Hall
My first experience of The Suffolk Food Hall was in 2018 for a coffee with some friends. I've been back many times. The last visit included a delicious Suffolk sausage sandwich and a very good black coffee. Sadly my first and last as I'm off the meat, but if it's your thing it comes highly recommended.
Image: Copyright Suffolk Food Hall via Trip Advisor
The range of fresh local produce is amazing, from seasonal veg and fruit to some real East of England foodie gems. They do have lots of products that are not locally sourced but the range is very complimentary and a gift buyers paradise. And Christmas time is a real treat.
A big added attraction of this business are the views across the river. It's a view you could stare at all day. On a sunny day with friends, a great lunch and that view. It's incredible. Book your table today and enjoy.
Location: Wherstead, Ipswich, IP9 2AB
2. Suffolk Distillery
This one's for the over 18's. It wouldn't be a Christmas top ten list without some booze. The Suffolk Distillery based in Glemsford near Sudbury create some incredible Gins and use locally sourced botanicals in their products.
Craft Gins have been big for a while. My first glass was a mandarin and cranberry Suffolk Dry Gin. Far too delicious for my own good, but it is amazing enough for me to talk about it here. Obviously, whilst I recommend it, I would always suggest moderation.
Image: Copyright Suffolk Distillery
And finally at the top of my list for Christmas.
When you focus on shopping locally you can stumble upon some really interesting businesses. One such gem is beeswax scented melt company uMeltz. I noticed a new stall at Stowmarket market in the summer and had a look and bought some items. The owner is local entrepreneur Jake, a young chap who founded his business in June 2021.
Image: Copyright uMeltz
His brand has sensible 'green' credentials which make his melts a logical choice that are plastic free, hand-made and very local. Guilt-free gifting is growing, so this is a great idea.
Well done to Jake for taking the bold step of starting a business in a pandemic and going by the crowds at his stall, it's going very well. We wish him luck.
Location: Stowmarket Market
THERE ARE LOTS OF GREAT SUFFOLK BUSINESSES
This top ten list is just a tiny fraction of the Suffolk businesses I've bought from and it doesn't come close to covering the wide choice of great local businesses across this beautiful county that I now call home.
To help showcase more of them I will be doing a monthly Suffolk Business Top Ten. So watch this space and share any businesses you love in the comments below.
Thanks for reading.
All images are thanks to the respective businesses. Please do not reproduce them without prior permission. The owner has the copyright.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
I'm Stephen Moore FCIM, a Strategic Marketing Consultant living in beautiful Suffolk. I support businesses large and small in Suffolk, Norfolk, Essex, Cambridgeshire and London. I have been writing about marketing developments for 20 years with articles in The Metro, City AM, Fresh Business Thinking, AllWork, The Marketer and Marketing Week.