Hi I’m Lauren, a mid-twenty-something Fashion graduate living in Norwich. I have the great pleasure of being Nor-Folk’s first Intern and so to celebrate, the team thought it would be fun for me to write a blog post. So here goes…
Stretching throughout Norwich City Centre, you’ll find ‘The Lanes’…. Full of clothing boutiques to award winning baristas and antique fares (one in a medieval church, no less). The Lanes truly represents the spirit of this ‘Fine City’. In fact, this community is the proud owner of the 2014 Great British High Street award!
Being an independent ourselves, we at team Nor-Folk strongly believe in supporting these independent shops and cafes. With this in mind, I thought it would be fun to take a peek and ask what influenced these creative folks to open their businesses.
Grosvenor Fish Bar is decorated with flair and located at the very centre of The Lanes. It has been ranked amongst the Top 20 Fish and Chip shops in the UK and fries up the classics alongside the odd twist. But what made such innovators decide to open their business? “The shop was already in my family. We took over the shop wanting to carry on the family tradition, however we wanted to modernise and experiment with the classics to create a new kind of Fish and Chip Shop” says owner Christian.
A stone’s throw across the street, it was a love for the product that spurred the opening of Strangers coffee shop. “We really just had a passion for good coffee and wanted to pass that on to our customers” Sam told me. Sam is one of three co-owners along with Will and Alex. They joined forces and opened up Strangers back in 2009. Since then the place has gone from strength to strength and recently shortlisted for a national award naming it amongst the top nine specialty coffee shops in the UK.
The success of The Lanes is in no doubt due to the talent and drive of its various shop owners and with awards coming left right and centre, what do these store owners like best about running their own business?
“The best part for me has to be being my own boss and the best part for Rory [his employee] has to be me being Rory’s boss,” says Henry of The Bookhive. “But in all seriousness” he continues, “it’s everything, the store is really valued by the city and we really enjoy the positive feedback we receive from our customers”.
The answers to my next question, confirmed all my suspicions about the community of the area. What’s it like to be a part of The Lanes?
“Independent shops are vital for our high street and economy,” said Charlie from Biddys Tearooms. “People work so hard to create their own thing and the Norwich Lanes are full of the very best of that. There’s a sense of community and drive, plus its lots of fun”. This was something that all the other stores interviewed enthusiastically agreed with.
Yet similarities are thankfully few and far between, with each store living up to the idea of independence. Until I asked my final question about where in Norfolk these folks go during their time off, one clear favourite emerged: The Norfolk Coast, the Norfolk Coast, the Norfolk Coast.