Shop Local for Christmas

WE all know the benefits of supporting the local economy by shopping close to home, but can we really get that must-have present on the local high street?

The Mercury talks to shopkeepers to get their suggestions on how you can choose the perfect Christmas present close to home.

WITH 30 years of experience playing the guitar and five running music shop Shake, Rattle + Roll in Gorleston, Alan Grey knows what he is talking about.

And with a store that hosts everything from amps to flutes to a dizzying array of stringed instruments, he struggles before making a Christmas selection.

“The point is that everything we stock in here we like and find interesting, so it’s difficult, but there’s a range of Chord starter guitars which are good” he said.

“Our Spongebob Squarepants guitar for kids and adults is also selling well- anything goes.”

And with help on hand from a knowledgeable team that includes Arron, of local metal heroes Mastema, Alan points out that the benefits of shopping local are obvious.

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“People come to use for advice, and get to know and trust us. There’s also the back up service, which is very important.”

When the co-owner of Veritas Bookshop in Gorleston started her business last December, she did not expect that one of their most popular range would be on local history.

“We only started with a small section but they flew off the shelves” said Heather Hillsden, who runs the shop with Sue Salter, “so now we’ve expanded and have local Historian Tooke doing a book signing on November 20.”

Veritas has been growing from strength to strength, and as well as local books, Heather said that children’s annuals, celebrity cook books and humour titles should fare well in the coming season.

“We do a second hand and out of print book search in which we track them down for people. I think we’ve had an early 100pc success rate.”

A small grey bear with a blue nose has proved to be a surprise best seller at Sentiments card shop in Great Yarmouth.

Darren Burton, 28, the shop’s owner, said Tatty Ted Grey Bar had proved so popular, his Market Place store had sold over 20 of the cuddly toys on Tuesday. He recommended the bear as his chosen Christmas present and believed its appeal stemmed from the fact it appealed to all age groups.

His store specialises in cards and gifts. “I think the Shop Local scheme is a brilliant idea. I always try and shop locally to keep my money in the town,” Mr Burton added.

Tim Mobbs, owner of David Mobbs sports shop in Regent Road, recommended roller skates as his ideal Christmas present.

He said people had been getting their skates on to his shop to buy the footwear since a new rollerskating venue had opened on the seafront.

He added: “It is a tough time due to the recession and if people don’t shop local then there will cease to be local shops. I am hoping it is going to help keep local residents shopping in this area.”