I’m a big advocate for shopping local where possible. You’ve all seen the phrase…
… and that is a true story. If we want these truly brilliant, unusual, interesting and bespoke sellers to stay in business, we need to shop with them
That’s not to say I don’t shop online, or on the high street at the nationals too – I do, but getting the balance between the two has been the key for me – especially with Christmas fast approaching and LOTS of people to buy for (the current list stands at 56 gifts…!)
Let’s start with the Nationals then…where do I shop regularly here in Bedford?
Number one for me is Homesense – it is an Aladdin’s cave of treasure and they stock such a huge variety of products. They have amazing price points and what I love best about it is that you never have a clue what you’ll find in there from one visit to the next! Great for homewares, candles, stationery, greetings cards, kitchenware, toys and beauty.
I also love picking bits and bobs up from Wilkos which especially good for small stocking-filler style items, smellies, household goods and pet supplies. They also have an amazing and very affordable range of Christmas decorations too, so well worth a look.
Okay, so back the small businesses we are lucky enough to have here in Bedford.
FOR THE FOODIE
The Barn – Cardington: Deli, Butchers & Cafe
I cannot begin to tell you how much I love this place. Well worth the short drive over to Cardington – it is full to the brim with amazing foodie treats – from jams/marmalades and chutneys, cheeses, cakes and biscuits, beer, wine and GIN (yass!!) It is the perfect place to pick up foodie treats – especially if you like to give foodie gifts or hampers at Christmas time.
The butchers here is amazing – we go fortnightly to buy our meat for the weeks ahead (and freeze half) – not only do you get incredible quality meats, but the friendly and personal service is second to none. You absolutely have to try their sausages, and their beef and stilton pie! *drool*
(Pic: from @BarnCardington on Twitter)
FOR THE CRAFTY
This hidden gem is a shop so many people still haven’t heard about when I mention it. Situated near the bus station in Bedford town centre it is a surprisingly brilliant find. Great for the crafty among us – it stocks a wide range of fabrics, haberdashery items, ready made garments and patterns, all sold at extremely reasonable prices. The ladies in there are super helpful and always really excited to hear about what crafty projects you have on the go.
FOR THE TRAVELLER
Tabitha is a Bedfordshire based graphic design artist, who sells her quirky and beautiful travel posters both online, and at local fairs and markets. Tabitha’s artwork is inspired by vintage railway posters, and she boasts over 160 different prints in her collection. From her famous Shipping Forecast range, to beaches, landmarks, mountains and more. She even has a comprehensive Bedfordshire collection, which is always expanding. Available in sizes A4-A1 framed or unframed, there’s a poster for every taste and budget.
I now have four of her prints displayed proudly in my home, and have bought many more as gifts for friends and relatives over the year
Pic: Tabitha Mary ‘Las Vegas’ travel print, part of our Gin Bar – everyone has to have a Gin Bar, right?)
FOR THE KIDS
If you live in Bedford and don’t know about Arcadia Sweetshop, can you even call yourself a Bedfordian? Our go-to pocket money spending shop, and perfect for sweet Christmas treats for little ones. I love how authentic it is, reminding me of the sweetshops of my own childhood. You cannot shop in here without a huge smile on your face. Taking our kids here feels like a rite of passage for sure.
Rogan’s Books/Childrens Book Illustration
Having a book-obsessed son, means that Rogan’s Books comes high on our list of favourite local shops to support – this gorgeous children’s book shop and original illustration galley is the ideal spot for shopping for the kids this Christmas. What Rachael doesn’t know about children’s books and artwork isn’t worth knowing. She’s a gem, as is this shop. Why not consider buying one of the amazing original art works she displays by renowned children’s illustrators such as Nick Sharratt or Jill Murphy? What a special Christmas gift indeed!
CAKE PIT STOP
You can’t get out and shop local without a pit stop to refuel – and my absolute favourite place to get my cake and caffeine fix is Vanilla Tree on St Cuthbert’s Street. It’s got a warm, friendly but uber trendy vibe, and the food they serve is outstanding. I whole heartedly recommend their homemade salt beef bagel, followed by their famous Pastel de Nata (Portuguese Custard Tart) I’ve been known to order these buy the box full. Seriously.
Where are your favourite places to shop locally?
Mrs B x