7 of the best gift shops in Ipswich
- Credit: Dial Lane Books
It’s officially time to get excited for Christmas in our county town.
After the tumultuous last two years the high street has had, now is the perfect time to head out and support some of Ipswich's fantastic retailers. Here just a few of the independent vendors worth checking out this season.
Maud’s Attic, The House in Town and Revival
25 St Peter's St, Ipswich IP1 1XF
The proud owner of Maud’s Attic, The House in Town, and Revival, Wendy Childs and her sons Robert and John Manning certainly have an eye for the quirkier things in life, and pride themselves on specialising in one-of-a-kind kitsch homeware, furnishings and trinkets.
Think funky lighting, oversized clocks, jewellery, handbags, loads of gifts, and the like. From stocking fillers to bigger gifts, you certainly won’t struggle to find something unique in Ipswich this Christmas.
“I think people like us because what we have is different,” she says.
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“When people come in, they say they just can’t find shops like ours anywhere else. And they like to come back because what we have changes all the time. I buy a very limited amount of each item to keep the shop interesting.”
Wendy understands more than anyone the importance of shopping on your high street, and urges shoppers to pay their local businesses a visit this Christmas.
“It’s been especially wonderful this year welcoming all of our old customers back into our shops following lockdown. Many have become friends over the years and all seem to enjoy the personal shopping experience after months of doing everything online. Nothing beats being able to examine goods prior to purchasing, and it is always enjoyable for us to be able to offer assistance to find that perfect gift.
“And when you shop locally, you’re also supporting the local economy, and we as retailers always endeavour to support the other local shops, cafes and bar too.”
21 St Peter's St, Ipswich IP1 1XF
Christmas is well and truly here at Cathy Frost’s St Peter’s Street shop. Having been in Ipswich for over a decade, Loveone has become a staple in the town’s independent shop scene, and champions an array of small crafters and makers.
“There’s so much to see here at the moment. But I really do like the Merry and Bright candles. They come as a set of three and you light one on Christmas Eve, one on Christmas Day and the other on Boxing Day which I think is such a lovely idea.”
For anyone looking for something especially quirky, customers should have a gander at the speciality chocolates currently in stock. “We’ve got haggis chocolate. It doesn’t contain meat, it’s just got the haggis spicing. Other flavours are Christmas Spice and Gin and Tonic. They’re all artisanal, Fairtrade, and delicious.”
Houseplants and gardening are all the rage at the moment, and Cathy has a wide variety of gifts for that nature lover in your life. “There’s a lovely range of plant-inspired gifts from a local young woman, Talking of Plant. So tea towels, table napkins, cards and prints. And we also started to do a range of boxed seeds last year. I think these make fantastic presents, and they’re beautifully packaged. I grew a lot of them this year, including cape gooseberries.”
Explaining why we should make a more conscious effort to shop local this year, Cathy adds: “Our local communities have never been so important - especially as we recover from the pandemic and more people work and spend more time in and around the town. And money spent locally helps to maintain jobs and ensure a vibrant local economy.”
Wildgoose Fine Foods
17 St Stephens Ln, Ipswich, IP1 1DP
Calling all foodies – this St Stephen’s Lane-based shop is your one-stop-shop for all of your fine gastro needs this season. Opened last December by husband-and-wife duo Caroline and Ian Blaydon, things have only gone from strength-to-strength for the couple behind Wildgoose Fine Foods.
“My husband and I are passionate about good food, and we felt there was a real need for something artisanal and high end in Ipswich,” explains Caroline.
“Our main focus throughout the year is selling superb cheeses. We stock around 35 to 40 cheeses at any one time, with the range changing frequently. And with Christmas on the horizon, we also stock seasonal favourites including Vacherin Mont D’or and potted Stilton. Our cheese hampers (containing three artisan cheeses, port, biscuits and chutney) are particularly popular in the run up to Christmas.”
The pair pride themselves on providing an exciting range of other artisanal goods and gifts – including cocktail-inspired marmalades, boozy preserves, continental pâtés, Italian cantuccini and panettone, smoked fish, cheese knives, Camembert bakers, fondue set, books and cheeseboards. For something a bit more local, be sure to check out some of the regional tipples on offer, such as Shotley Vineyard wines, liqueurs from DJ Wines in Monks Soham, and craft ale from Ampersand Brewery in Bungay.
In addition they've prepared a range of Christmas hampers – and are offering a bespoke service, so you can really tailor your gift to your loved one. “The personal touch is so important - we love working with our customers to create the perfect gift for their loved ones,” adds Caroline.
“We are fortunate to have so many lovely independents in Ipswich, and we are passionate about supporting local. And following recent events, it’s now more important than ever to support our local independent stores. It's up to all of us to change the culture back to the pleasures of personal service and going out to shop, rather than the solitary and soulless activity of internet shopping.”
10 Cox Lane, Ipswich, IP4 1HT
If you’re hard-pressed to find the perfect gift for that stylish person in your life, then DJV Boutique is here to help. This award-winning local business has been in Ipswich’s town centre since 2012, and specialises in designer clothes, bags and accessories.
Suffolk born and bred, owner Mandy Errington is always first in line to champion Ipswich and all that is has to offer. “Ipswich has great attractions and heritage - and with the proposed developments and expansion of the town, the future of the retail landscape looks much brighter.
“Ever since we launched, we aim to provide desirable fashion solutions to attract those who prefer a more ‘individual’ look,” she explains.
Customers can peruse a variety of womenswear and menswear, suitable for a range of budgets. In addition, visitors can take full advantage of a number of bespoke personalised services including a gifting service and signature style revamp packages – something that gives independent business an edge on their online competitors.
“When you shop small, you’re actually supporting people on an individual basis and their livelihoods. You’re also playing your part to build a stronger local economy and helping businesses to flourish again after the setbacks of the pandemic and economic downturn,” adds Mandy.
Dial Lane Books
8 Dial Lane, Ipswich, IP1 1DL
“For over 30 years it’s been a dream of mine to run my own bookshop,” explains Andrew Marsh.
And after finally opening his shop, Dial Lane Books, just before lockdown last year, the local business owner has been at the forefront of the town’s literary scene - and is incredibly thankful for the town that has helped make his dreams a reality.
“The support I’ve had from the people of Ipswich, even since before I opened, has been absolutely incredible and is more than I could have asked for or even expected. As a result, I have built up a very loyal customer base very quickly, and for me that is very important,” he says.
While Andrew has dealt with the difficulties of lockdown as a new business owner, he’s excited for what this Christmas has to bring, and has a range of gifts perfect for that book lover in your life.
“The classics always go down well at this time of year, and I have many different editions of these. Graphic novels and my vast LGBT section of books would also make wonderful gifts, as would the incredible pop-up books and stunning editions of Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. I also have an amazing array of advent calendars, which, while not technically a Christmas gift, are too good to pass up.
“Moving forward, I’m constantly evolving the shop, and I’m always looking for new ways of doing things. I see this as fundamental not only for my business but for me personally also. I am always keen to team up with other local businesses, and I will remain passionate about doing whatever I can to champion the high street, the town, and independent businesses.”
20-28 Norwich Rd, Ipswich IP1 2NH
A staple of the Ipswich shopping scene, Coes on Norwich Road has been proudly serving the town’s clientele for nearly a century, and cannot wait for this year’s festive period.
“Coes has always prided itself on offering a wide range of quality clothing. That ethos remains today, as does the commitment to providing high levels of service and customer care. Our staff are friendly and knowledgeable and will always do their utmost to ensure customer satisfaction,” explains marketing manager Fiona Coe.
Specialising in menswear (up to size 5XL), womenswear, sportswear, skiwear and gifts, Coes has a number of brands under its roof including Ralph Lauren, Levi’s, Barbour and Superdry alongside many individual brands.
“Our range of gifts is second to none. You’ll definitely find something unique, such as locally-produced candles from Elsie & Tom, Suffolk-distilled gins and vodkas, as well as everyone’s favourite Adnams tipples. You won’t be disappointed if you visit us this Christmas.
“I can also guarantee you will receive better service if you shop local. You’ll be supporting your local economy to generate jobs and prosperity for all, and in the very simplest of terms, ‘use them or lose them’,” she adds.
14 Dial Lane, Ipswich, IP1 1DL
Heather Carr, who launched Zeebra Chic seven years ago, has always had a passion for interiors and clothing.
“I only buy in small quantities as I like to keep the stock fresh and for customers to see something different when they come in. We have a very supportive customer base who love to come in and support us being local and independent.”
Some of the gifts her shop specialises in include candles from St Eval, Italian clothing, handcrafted Norfolk glassware, silk scarves, silver plated jewellery, homewares and much more.
“During Christmas, the shop is fuller than ever, styled with decorations galore, trees, lights and everything you need to dress up your home. Pop along and see our Christmas window, where you can meet our reindeer gonk and can have your photo taken too.
“We always look forward to seeing old and new customers during the season. I thank everyone for their continued support - times have been challenging, but I was so happy to be able to open our doors again.”