Celebrate Independents/Small Businesses – Part 1

Rushden Lakes are proud to have a variety of independents and small businesses on site. We caught up with some of the staff from these stores to see what it's like working for a small business. Magazine Heaven Magazine Heaven (who recently won the Magazine Retailer of the Year at the PPA awards), is home to the widest selection of magazines under one roof. You can browse their huge selection (including books) in a modern, uncluttered environment, complemented by their very own Artisan Café serving many products from local suppliers and artisanal producers, including their jams, chutneys, honey and Tea Lab loose leaf tea! We asked Sophie and Tyler what it meant to work for an independent and they gave a great insight into the family oriented business. What is it like to work for an independent business? Sophie : First and foremost, the freedom is incomparable! There are no barriers to entry, no red tape; we can try out any idea, event or product. The working style is very collaborative, and teamwork is at the forefront of everything. It feels like a family. Working within a smaller team means everyone has to be able to wear many different hats, so if you like to be kept on your toes, it’s definitely a bonus. Being able to get a 360-degree view of the company wide operations is always very insightful. Over the years, staff have sourced new magazines for the store, mainly small independent publications, some completely new launches, and it’s a wonderful opportunity for both parties - and of course the publisher, who otherwise may never have been able to say their magazine can be purchased in an actual store! Tyler : It’s refreshing to work somewhere where everything is in house. Customers get hyped about what we do, there is nowhere like this, it’s got such a unique feel. I feel very fortunate to work at Magazine Heaven, it’s such a cool store to have locally. It’s lovely to support other indie publishers and businesses as well, and help them grow. It’s a huge part of our brand to keep things local and support the independent publishers. What does it mean to you? Sophie : It’s very inspiring to see a small idea turn into what is now Magazine Heaven. There is a lot of heart here, and equally a lot of hard work. Our most recent accomplishment is winning the 2021 PPA Magazine Retailer of the Year award, which is like winning an Oscar in this industry! We’ve been up against the likes of Tesco, Waitrose and Sainsbury’s, who have hundreds of stores across the UK. It just goes to show what can happen when you support independent businesses. It’s my hope that the momentum for shopping small and local continues to flourish across communities everywhere. Tyler : It’s amazing to be apart of such a quirky establishment; we’ve got the café as well as the store, and they compliment each other so well. Being surrounded by so much creative inspiration and industry knowledge, it really opens your mind; you see all these topics, articles, and so much content across so many subjects. The way the business has blossomed over the past year in spite of all the challenges has really given me a lot of fuel to pursue what matters to me. Bewiched Bewiched Coffee opened their first store back in 2010. Since then they have opened numerous stores around the Northamptonshire area, including their flagship store at Rushden Lakes. We spoke to Bex, the store manager, about her time working for Bewiched. Bex: I’ve been working for the independent coffee shop Bewiched for the last 7 years, I started out in the Kettering store and now currently run and manage the Rushden Lakes store. I’ve always stood by independent shops and locally sourced, you get better attention to detail than a branded supplier, we also currently working with Fresh Ideas supplier who cater our handmade cakes/ tray-bakes, which are made by great independent suppliers and have never faulted us! The cakes are delicious! ( always a 5 star is the caramel shortbread slice) Our current growth is amazing and now with 13 stores, our newest achievement is the drive thru in Moulton Park, which has just opened last month. A great start to Bewiched journey is our new Roastery project in which roasting our own beans for all the Bewiched stores, using a more recyclable/reusable form of packaging for transporting. The Bewiched customers are the ones that have supported this small business to grow so fast, choosing to have an independent is so much more than just a coffee, it’s an entire experience and choice.   Canoe 2 Canoe 2 is owned by childhood friends Richard and Ian, and is definitely a family/friend run business! You can choose between a selection of fun activities on the lake or even go for a river trip. Speaking to Ian and Richard we were able to see why they started this fun new business: Ian: The seed of an idea was sown in 2009 after a weekend paddle on the River Wye to celebrate our 40th Birthdays.  Wondering why nobody was doing the same on the River Nene, we decided to investigate.  Discovering the incredibly lovely River Nene and surrounding Nene Valley was quite an education and we couldn’t help thinking that many other locals such as ourselves were probably equally unaware of what was on our doorstep.