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Hadleigh eco-convenience store The Little Ginger Bee Company puts the planet and customers first





A new eco-convenience store has opened in a Suffolk town that promises to put consumers – and the planet – first.

The Little Ginger Bee Company opened in Hadleigh’s High Street on Saturday, October 29, and stocks a variety of cosmetics, foodstuffs, and assorted goodies for the conscious consumer.

Opened by former car industry worker Toni Kelly, who decided to turn her passion for nature into a business, inspired by a prior part-time job in Kersey.

Toni Kelly is the proprietor of The Little Ginger Bee company, which opened at the end of October. Picture: Ash Jones
Toni Kelly is the proprietor of The Little Ginger Bee company, which opened at the end of October. Picture: Ash Jones

Lockdown gave her plenty of time to think, and she decided for a change of scenery - deciding to open her little dream in Hadleigh.

The 48-year-old said: “Everyone’s been lovely. We’ve had a strong initial reception, a lot of interest, and some lovely comments.

“My goal with the shop isn’t to become rich. I want to pay my bills, and offer convenience to the public, and encourage people to shop consciously.

Toni wishes to have a separate selection of gluten-free and non-gluten-free food, so customers don't have to worry if they are intolerant. Picture: Ash Jones
Toni wishes to have a separate selection of gluten-free and non-gluten-free food, so customers don't have to worry if they are intolerant. Picture: Ash Jones

“Everything in the shop is vegetarian and vegan-friendly – I’ve been vegan myself for three years – and much of the packaging is either compostable, or made from recyclable materials.

“I want people to come in and not have to worry whether something is eco-friendly.”

Toni is trying to ensure every possible allergen is accounted for in her stock, and also stocks a variety of organic products.

However, she is hesitant to stock organic products for the sake of it, as she said it can be quite expensive, and she wants everyone to be able to buy her goods.

The shop stocks a wide array of goods, from cosmetics to snacks, all adhering to the circular economy. Picture: Ash Jones
The shop stocks a wide array of goods, from cosmetics to snacks, all adhering to the circular economy. Picture: Ash Jones

Much of her stock is sourced locally, from farmers or independent or women-led businesses.

Other goods come from far and wide across the country.

The shop was primarily set up as a refill shop where customers can bring existing containers in and receive a top up of cooking oil, cleaning products, snacks, shampoo, soaps and more, all of which are vegan-friendly.

The shop is still very much a 'work-in-progress', she said, and is constantly taking customer feedback on what she should stock. Picture: Ash Jones
The shop is still very much a 'work-in-progress', she said, and is constantly taking customer feedback on what she should stock. Picture: Ash Jones

She also stocks cosmetic products, bath bombs and salts, herbs, organic seeds, dried fruit, snacks and grains.

Toni even wants to try to source gluten-free options for those that desire them.

Customer feedback will help her update the shop, and she described the business as very much work-in-progress.

Reception from the public has been warm, with gifts and greetings cards having been given by the community. Picture: Ash Jones
Reception from the public has been warm, with gifts and greetings cards having been given by the community. Picture: Ash Jones

If demand for a product is high enough, she will consider it, provided her stipulation that all brands adhere to a circular economy, the idea that they should be reused or recycled.

She’s always looking for more local suppliers.

Toni added: “I want something more than a business - I want something that will actually have an impact, both on the community and the environment.

The name 'The Little Ginger Bee Company' comes from the ginger bees that nested in her cottage. Picture: Ash Jones
The name 'The Little Ginger Bee Company' comes from the ginger bees that nested in her cottage. Picture: Ash Jones

“I live in Bentley, but I’ve had my eye on Hadleigh and this shop for a while.

“When it came up on the market, I jumped at the opportunity - I think this is just the right town for this kind of business, as it’s still driven by independent businesses.

“I hope this is the start of something magnificent, and the local community has been incredibly supportive as I take the next steps in my career.”