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Spotlight on independent businesses

City Walk advert
City Walk advert

July is Independent Business Month and Winchester is filled with independent businesses with charming stories of how they began and hopes for the future.

Winchester Independents logo 2018

To celebrate, we’ve caught up with some of them to raise awareness of the hidden gems you’ll find on your next visit to the city and district.

Across Winchester city centre

P&G Wells, College Street

Regional finalist in the Independent Bookshop of the Year Awards and winner of the SME/Independent Business Award at the 2022 Winchester Business Excellence Awards, P&G Wells is situated in one of the most historic parts of the city and the oldest shop in town. Having sold books in Winchester since 1729, it has supported local authors since Jane Austen spent the last few weeks of her life doors away.

Manager, Steve Scholey, said: ‘We are approaching our 300th anniversary, if we can get to 300 years, I will be happy. I am thankful to the whole team for the hard work they put in to keep the business going and to adapt to the current challenges.’

Rawberry, St George’s Street

Starting out as a Winchester market stall, Rawberry has been a juice bar and cafe for three years. They pride themselves on being 100% vegetarian, with vegan and gluten free alternatives. This family owned and female-run independent likes to support local artists with pop-up shops and seasonal markets, plus students with their downstairs study hub.

Rawberry are also on the Too Good To Go app – meaning people can collect their leftover food so it gets eaten rather than going to waste.

Earthian Zero Waste Shop, Parchment Street

Look no further for plastic free shopping and affordable, ethical and sustainable products – and the only zero waste shop around. This store strives to not only help customers reduce waste at home, but also be a business that sends zero waste to landfill.

Earthian’s Katie Campling said: ‘Independent Month is vital for the future of businesses and innovation in our high streets. There is tremendous research that shows towns and cities with more independent retail reap benefits socially, economically and culturally. The high street is vibrant because of the ideas and passion indie business owners bring to the places they live.’

Outside of Cabinet Rooms window

The Cabinet Rooms, Jewry Street

Opening in 2017 by owners Gary and Marcus, they hoped to offer speciality coffee and expertly made classic cocktails. They now host tasting events including the famous Cocktail Week, book clubs and more – adding personality to this quirky, family-run cafe-bar.

The Cabinet Rooms is known for its cosy atmosphere and cakes made by the owners’ mum, plus they’ll refill your water bottle for free.

Ashby’s Winchester

Ashby’s Winchester joined a wide array of other unique independents on St Thomas Street, in December 2021. Their pink and flowery decor has enticed people in to try their delicious all day brunch dishes, pretty pink drinks, sweet treats, afternoon teas, fizz and cocktails. The team at Ashby’s Winchester love being part of such a big, friendly community of independents in Winchester.

By Ross Garcia

Finalist in the SME/Independent Business Award at the 2022 Winchester Business Excellence Awards, Ross Garcia is a hugely popular and highly regarded figure of the local and national hairdressing scene, offering excellent customer service from his salon in Southgate Street.

Protecting the planet is also close to the heart of the business which proudly uses eco-friendly towels, renewable energy, and locally sourced sustainable products made from ocean waste plastics.

Ross and his team offer distinct levels of pricing to be affordable to all budgets.

Toscanaccio

Located in Parchment Street, Toscanaccio, finalists in the Service Excellence category at the 2022 Winchester Business Excellence Awards,  is the place to stock up on high quality wines and deli produce from Italy.

Across the district

Spend a day exploring our market towns across the Winchester district with the help of our Discover Winchester District’s Market Towns guide.

Susie Watson Designs, Alresford

Susie Watson Designs can be found in the Georgian market town of Alresford. The business was born from Susie’s desire to create everyday items that were both beautiful yet functional. The business now has several showrooms across the UK including this pretty colour-washed store in Alresford.

Susie passionately believes that a sustainable business is built on relationships where people matter both inside and outside the business. Throughout her career, she has worked with extremely talented artisans in Sri Lanka, India, and the UK. All are small family run businesses which mirror the ethos of Susie Watson Designs and together make sure they deliver the highest quality products at a price that is fair to everyone.

In addition to selling a wide range of products, Susie Watson Designs offers an interior design service free of charge in store and a £50 home visit. This can be from the beginning of a project, or mid-way through if advice is required.

“We are extremely fortunate in Alresford that there are already many independent retailers and small family run businesses. It is great that Independent Retailer Month can promote this outside of the local area and let more people know about the benefits of supporting independent businesses like ours. Everything we sell is very personalised and because of this we can collaborate closely with our customers offering them a unique service. It is this that makes independent retail so special.” – Sue Stewart, Store Manager at Susie Watson Designs in Alresford.

For a full list of independent businesses in Alresford download our Alresford Map.

Shop local in Bishop's Waltham

Shop local in Bishop’s Waltham

Anyfish, Bishop’s Waltham

Founded by Pete Atkinson when he started a fishmonger’s shop more than 25 years ago, now he has a team of experts producing a ready meal range and delivering products, smoking fish, running a deli with trimmings including olives and relishes and catering for parties and events.

They also have a charter boat called Dotty, which offers fishing trips, day cruises and celebrations while exploring Chichester Harbour and the Solent.

For a full list of independent businesses in Bishop’s Waltham download our Bishop’s Waltham Map.

Meon Valley Butchers, Wickham

Ben Sawyer, who has years of traditional family-run butcher experience, opened the business in 2016 – but once the pandemic hit, he knew it needed to evolve to survive in the long run. So, as well as upgrading to a digital customer system, the business launched The Pantry, an online platform; and they became local heroes by delivering free of charge to local neighbourhoods during lockdown.

Now they offer locally sourced products and sell BBQ boxes, afternoon tea packages, hog roast hire and more and deliver nationally (free if an order costs over £100). They support local events, donate to homeless charities, support local partner farms and put money back in to the economy. As a result of changes made, they have doubled their turnover since pre-pandemic.

Chesapeake Mill, Wickham

Built in 1820 and having been a working mill for 150 years, Chesapeake Mill is bursting with history. It has been owned by several generations of the same family and has been welcoming customers for over 18 years as a unique shopping experience.

As it stands now, Chesapeake Mill is home to forty-seven independent traders selling an array of vintage, timeless and hard to find products in a unique retail outlet. Each visit is bound to be different and will make you feel like you are on a treasure hunt.

“We are extremely lucky with the building we operate from; it attracts people from all over the world. As well as local visitors, we have a lot of international visitors as we are a tourism hotspot. We are so incredibly grateful for each customer.” – Sandy Taylor, Manager of Chesapeake Mill.

As well as shopping, you can check out the new tearoom, Crumbs overlooking the river Meon.

For a full list of independent businesses in Wickham download our Wickham Map.

Niche, Denmead

Open in November 2021, during the pandemic, Niche was driven by the owner Amanda Skeens’ dream of owning her own boutique. Now there is a real sense of community in store, which has become a local hub. Offering one-of-a-kind clothing, homeware and lifestyle items, Nice is one of the Winchester district’s hidden gems!

Niche owner, Amanda, said: ‘Having support from the public feels like acceptance that you have made the right choices. I always offer the best customer service possible as I feel this is often lacking elsewhere.’

Watch our Shop, Eat, Explore Winchester film which features more of Winchester’s local independent businesses.