In a recent edition of the Guardian, district councillor and Holbeach businesswoman Tracey Carter challenged readers to give her a shopping list of items they thought should be available to purchase in a town the size of Holbeach. Tracey was fed up with people knocking her town and approached us with the idea, convinced she would be able to purchase the majority of items on the list. In this special report, she tells us how she got on...
So, I now have my shopping list of items that residents would like to see being purchased from the array of shops in Holbeach.
It reads as follows:
• Hobby item;
• Computer item/repair;
• Fresh bread;
• Reasonably priced
shoes and clothes;
• Kitchenware item;
• Craft item.
I was pleased with the list given, as it covers a really good range of items, including everyday things and also more luxury purchases, and covers items for a broad range of ages.
So my day commenced, firstly by parking in Boston Road car park where you can park for two hours completely free. I managed to get parked easily, even on market day, so a good positive start to the experience. This was at midday.
Throughout the trip I kept my eye out for products that were readily available and also kept in my thoughts items that I felt the town may benefit from having more choices of.
Sweets: Well I had a wealth of choice in Laddies in Church Street. Ranging from every day chocolate bars and a huge range of sweets that can be purchased by the 100 grams, with prices starting at 99p. I didn’t realise that you can also purchase hampers here and choose the products to put in them. This makes a great gift and prices start at only £5.
Within the sweets category I also visited the Flower Basket to treat myself to one or two of the luxury Belgian chocolates available to buy in there. They are brought by the weight (from £3.75 per 100 grams). It was great to see they also offered a sugar free chocolate suitable for diabetics.
Computer repairs /items: Holbeach Tech is centrally placed in the High Street, opposite Central Fish Bar. The guys in there sell a range of computer goods including laptops, computers, tablets, all new and second-hand, and all goods to complement them. They also offer a repair service to clients, too. I decided a great purchase from here was a refurbished Toshiba Netbook at only £50. What a fantastic gift this will make.
Fresh bread: I agree it is extremely saddening that the Holbeach Bakery closed, due to their own personal reasons, but what we do have is the fantastic goods available in the Holbeach WholeFood shop. They have beautiful cakes, with the range changing regularly but today included Black Forest muffins, sticky toffee cake, apricot slice and yoghurt-topped apple and blackcurrant flapjack, with prices starting at only 75p each. The range of fresh breads include Granary, Wholemeal, Farmhouse white, Poppy knot and Multi seed. These are freshly delivered to the shop on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, and can also be pre ordered. Loaves start at only £1.10. They also have available a number of products to suit special dietary needs, such as wheat free and dairy free.
Books: There are books available in a number of shops, but I completely admit not a great range of really current new titles. But what I did find that is completely special to Holbeach is Patrick Limmings’ book ‘The Accidental Shopkeeper’ available to purchase in his shop on Fleet Street at the price of £9.99. A superb read!
Jewellery: Well this one is clearly a fond favourite of mine, and I enjoy nothing more than visiting The Old Mill in Boston Road ( incorporating The Clotheshanger Boutique). They have beautiful items and include some quite unique and individual jewellery. I decided to purchase a gorgeous necklace and bracelet set with genuine large crystals and ribbons – only £18.99 for the set. This shop is the perfect place to buy a gift as they always package them beautifully. This shop also offers branded gifts such as Ted Baker. They stock handbags, scarves, jewellery and prom dresses suiting all ages and most budgets. For the man in your life, there are also some stunning men’s gifts including pens and jewellery items.
Reasonably priced shoes and clothes: The Original Factory Shop offers men, women’s and children’s clothes and shoes – the ranges change extremely quickly so it’s worth visiting the shop regularly and, in my opinion, are all extremely well priced. It’s the ideal place to find everyday clothing and staple wardrobe items, such as the ever favourite black trousers that I decided on.
Also in the reasonably priced shoes and clothes category I visited Dress 4 Less, a recent addition to our High Street. This shop offers new and pre-owned items, suiting all age ranges, and every single item is only £5 and under. I couldn’t believe the amount of popular brands available in this shop. I decided to buy a Wallis maxi dress in black ready for my meal out. The staff were really friendly and helpful in here and had a number of customers visiting the store in the time I was there.
I then visited Toto shoe shop. In here I selected a TUK high heel shoe in galaxy purple and pink design for £55. The quality of the range is amazing and really fashionable, and these shoes will match with a number of my favourite pink jewellery items I already have. This shop offers some unique, good quality items that can really make you stand out. I do appreciate that not everyone has the budget to spend £55 on one pair of shoes, which is why I also paid attention to the great range of shoes and boots available in the Factory Shop. I feel that between the two stores there is something for everyone. While in Toto, I also noticed they offered a particularly popular range of specialist wide fitting shoes starting at £42, suitable for absolutely anyone with problem feet. The shop really does offer something for all ages again.
Kitchen items: In Tonwoods I found some great items such as jam jars and Kilner jars, right through to food mixers, kettles and the fashionable Spiralizer vegetable spiral slicer at the special price of only £17.99. I have seen this product with a leading retailer at £30.
In Lisa’s in the centre of town I picked up a stunning new set for the kitchen of tea, sugar and coffee canisters at £7.99 each and also a matching bread bin at £23.99. Lisa also stocked a number of other items that matched this beautiful range, available in duck egg blue, cream and grey. I then visited QD which stocked a superb range of Pyrex baking dishes, trays, etc, and also a 15-inch roaster with V-shape rack on offer at only £9.99.
Hobby items and craft items: I found that these items merged quite a bit and also covered such a wide area and very much depended on personal interests. Some gems of items that I came across in the town included:
In Boyes – a huge range of craft items such as glitters, glues, card, sequins, fabrics and ribbons. All the items you would need to make a whole host of products and to have hours of fun doing so, with or without the kids! I managed to buy enough cards and envelopes to make beautiful hand-made invitations for a forthcoming gathering for only £4.99. They are also stocking some fabulous Easter products such as bonnets and baskets and little chicks for cakes or displays, too.
I also found items such as beautiful collectable Teddy bears – which some consider to be a hobby – in Victoria Crafts, on the High Street, amongst other lovely items such as shabby chic hand-painted furniture. The bears are Steiff Bears, so a really special bear, with prices starting at £40. I also noticed a couple of gorgeous paintings available for sale while in the shop.
In the Party Shop on Park Road there were also loads of hobby items for the cake bakers in the town, all at reasonable prices. And everything you will need to host a great children’s party including balloons, napkins and party bags.
In Dancewear Etcetera I find specialist hobby items for the gymnasts and ballerinas amongst us. They offered a full range including leotards, gym bags, ballet shoes and many more items. Prices for ballet leotards start at £10.50 and for the gymnasts’ leotards prices start at £18.50.
The other final hobby item that I thought was great was the furniture on offer in As Good As. A great deal of people have started the hobby of re-inventing furniture at home. I came across a good few furniture items that I would have loved to have painted up and re-invented (if I had the time!), to make some unique items for your own home. There was a whole range of items in there. Chairs, ideal to be painted to match your home, starting at only £2.99. And coffee tables starting at only £6.99. There was also a beautiful dresser that would suit someone’s kitchen perfectly that certainly needed no painting or restoration. A great collection in here to suit all homes, budgets and taste.
To enable you to be able to carry out your furniture restoring work I also found a good range of colours of furniture paints in Tonwoods – which are on offer at the moment at only £13.99 for 750ml. They also stock craft knives and various equipment to enable you to have a great finished product.
Other hobbies that can be easily catered for in the town include gardening and fishing. Limmings offers pretty much everything a gardener will need, and Ged’s Fishing Tackle, recently moved to Fleet Street, caters for the fisherman’s needs.
Throughout my day I found each shopkeeper was helpful and a pleasure to be served by. I found most items really reasonably priced and very competitive with the big chain store items – some in fact were cheaper, and if you couldn’t find what you were looking for then the shops would try to assist to find a close alternative or order it in for you.
I think the two areas that were most limited were current top title books and also men were at a slight disadvantage in the fashion range (although one shop did advise me they hope to be able to stock men’s clothes, too). It would be great to see more of both of those products being offered for sale on our High Street.
The community spirit felt throughout my day was very strong, and I have evidence of this too by the huge response to the Facebook page, The Holbeach Local, that I started last month and we already have nearly 600 likes. Companies please keep sending your information to us so we can add it to the page.