Micks Cycles, Vinyl Hunter and Pocket Watch & Petticoats in St John's Street, Bury St Edmunds, are behind our Love Local campaign
It has hardly changed for decades, but St John’s Street has taken on a slight red tint these past few weeks as more shops have put up stickers to back our Love Local campaign.
Bosses of Vinyl Hunter, Micks Cycles and Pocket Watch & Petticoats say customers come from all around the area and even other countries to visit the road.
By one count, there are 73 independent shops along St John’s Street – and no two are quite the same.
Rosie Hunter, owner of café and record shop Vinyl Hunter, is aware of the attraction of the street and has resurrected St John’s Street Summer Festival in June to showcase it (see panel).
She said: “Independent shops are the heart of Bury going back to its origins as a market town where people met each week to shop, trade and support each other in business.
“St John’s Street has survived many recessions and changes. It is unique in its design and its number of independent shops is like no other street almost anywhere.
“I think residents and shoppers should come back to streets and independent shops, start talking and interacting with each other. They will be amazed at what is on their doorstep.”
Family-run Micks Cycles has been a presence since 1970 when Mick Hailstone started-out.
His granddaughter Chloé Hailstone is now manager and she has been a presence in the shop since 2011.
“It has always been independent shops for as long as I have known it,” she said last week.
“I would say more things are going on here now, like the summer festival and the events at Christmas. It’s becoming more vibrant.
“People initially think of Bury as a market town, but the independent shops play a massive part in the town’s economy and reputation. Our customers come from as far as Cambridge, Norwich and Ipswich to shop here.”
“People are starting to become more informed about the importance of shopping locally," Chloe Hailstone
Chloé added: “People are starting to become more informed about the importance of shopping locally.
“It has come somewhat with news of the decline of high street shopping in general. As we sell large products people will want to come in for advice on what they need.
“Customers can always get the personal touch along this street – it’s the largest all-independent street in Bury.
“We can help each other out by recommending each other and coming together for events like the festival.”
She pointed out Vinyl Hunter, Steamer Trading Cookshop and Pocket Watch & Petticoats as three examples where this is prevalent.
Justine Booth is manager at Pocket Watch & Petticoats, a presence in St John’s Street since 2015 and in Ipswich a year longer.
It may not have been in town for as long as its neighbours – but the retailer of women’s clothing has become well-respected, winning a Bury Free Press Business Award last year.
“It started in the bedroom of co-owner Sophia Norris and has come a long way in a short time,” said Justine. “We stock sizes six to 26 and it’s all about body positivity – and we find St John’s Street the perfect location.
“Adrian (Taylor, co-founder) chose St John’s Street because of how inviting it is, we have got the lanes – it is the independent street of the town, it’s really long and it would not be the same for us anywhere else in town. It fits well with the others down here.
“People come here from around the UK and from different countries as well, which makes us feel really lucky and we are loving it.”
She added: “I think the festival is really collaborative, it gets the shops talking to each other. It has to have that supportive approach. We all want to support each other as one business doing well is good for another one nearby.
Justine, who went to school in Bury, said she even likes to visit the road she works on in her own time and listed Smoking Monkey Antiques, Castang’s Kitchen and Love It among her favourites.
“I’ve always shopped here,” she added. “And luckily a lot of shops here have stood the test of time. It has become even more individual and there are some shops you won’t find anywhere else.”
What makes Pocket Watch & Petticoats stand out is their refusal to not sell their products over the internet.
Justine said: “We have been adamant about not going online. We want to give that old fashioned service, we are really proud of this.
“There are some things we
cannot get across online we want to give proper styling advice to customers.”
And of Love Local, she added: “I have got some pens and stickers for it – I am more than happy to be supporting it.”