Taking home the trophy as this year’s favourite independent business in Nottingham is The Specialty Coffee Shop, on Friar Lane.
The competition was organised by It’s in Nottingham to discover the city’s favourite independent business – with over 3,700 public nominations cast this year.
The top ten businesses were announced at the end of June in two different categories – shopping and services, and eating, drinking and things to do.
The overall winning business and two highly commended were announced at a special breakfast event on Tuesday 4 July – Independence Day.
Each top ten business was assessed by mystery shoppers before being judged by an independent panel, with the winning The Specialty Coffee Shop described as being “welcoming and friendly, and very knowledgeable and enthusiastic, serving homemade produce that is a little different”.
Run by passionate coffee enthusiasts Lucy Giacone and Michelangelo Franco, the shop, on the corner of Friar Lane and Maid Marian Way, opened last year and sells ethically-sourced coffee and homemade food, including gluten free and vegan options.
Speaking after discovering they had won the competition, co-owner Lucy said: “All of the hard work that’s gone into the business has paid off. We’re seeing a lot of new people and a lot of fun things happening. It’s an amazing achievement.
“We’ve created a community and that’s what we wanted. All of our customers are lovely people – I enjoy going to work. If it wasn’t for our customers and the people who voted for us, we wouldn’t be here.”
Recognised as highly commended in the shopping and services category was Knit Nottingham on Trinity Walk, who received positive feedback such as offering a great selection of products, being “friendly, welcoming and enthusiastic” and catering for all levels of skill in the industry.
The yarn shop was founded in 2010 and sells a variety of knitting and crocheting supplies. It also holds relaxed workshops for beginners and experts, as well as having meet-ups for the knitting community in Nottingham.
Owner Eleanor Burke said: “I feel very shocked and surprised. I’m very happy. I wasn’t expecting to get into the top ten, let alone this, so it’s amazing. It’s the feeling of knowing that people have voted for us – customers and experts. That means a lot.”
Debbie Bryan, on St Mary’s Gate, was highly commended in the eating, drinking and things to do category. The shop and tea room in Hockley sells an array of craft goods, accessories and gifts, as well as holding regular events for those looking to get arty. The business was also the overall winner in last year’s competition.
In this year’s competition, it was described as “a unique offer of both a gift shop and café environment” and “friendly and attentive, while offering classes and afternoon teas”.
Debbie Bryan said: “It’s been a great morning and I think it’s amazing that we have been highly commended. We were so excited to be shortlisted again, especially as it’s voted for by our customers. It’s a massive recognition for our shop and we’re really pleased. It’s putting a spotlight on independent businesses in Nottingham.”
The competition to discover Nottingham’s top independent business is held each year by It’s in Nottingham during their independents campaign, which kicked off at the start of June.
The initiative will culminate this weekend with the Independents Festival. Four pop-up stages will be hosting live free entertainment across Saturday, at Pelham Street, Carlton Street, Middle Pavement and Trinity Square.
Winners of the independents competition, The Specialty Coffee Shop, will be getting involved with the festival by hosting an afternoon tea with a twist. Customers will be able to sample coffee-infused cocktails and coffee tea pots, as well as a selection of home-baked cakes and sandwiches with live music and entertainment – all for £20.
Jeff Allen, chairman of the Nottingham BID, the organisation behind It’s in Nottingham, said: “Nottingham has so many great independents and they are very important to the city. The quality of entries was very high and it was a difficult choice to select the commended businesses and overall winners. Small margins determined the difference between the winners and the rest of the businesses in the top ten and they should all be very proud.”
Councillor Sam Webster, Portfolio Holder for Business, Education and Skills at Nottingham City Council commented: “It’s great to see such a wide diversity in the competition and to see how people in the city have really got involved in voting for their favourites.
“I’d like to congratulate all those who were shortlisted and especially our worthy winners and highly commended businesses. Competitions like this really emphasise how important all independent local businesses are to the continued growth and vibrancy of Nottingham’s retail and leisure offer.”