Now with the best will in the world, Christmas shopping can bring out the worst in people. After a couple of hours on the high street the season of goodwill turns into the season of “please let me go home before I bludgeon someone.” So what if I can offer you a place where you can buy your Christmas tree, gifts to put underneath it (from a range to please ALL the family) and have a good soul reviving alcholic drink (or a cup of tea) at the same time? Did I mention it’s away from the centre of town? Did I also mention there’s easy parking and it’s on a bus route?
It’s not too good to be true, it’s the new pop up boutique at Bartons in Chilwell. Run by the Bluebird Tea Company, the boutique will be open from Wednesdays to Sundays each week from now till Christmas Eve. Creative Nottingham went down to the launch last night to find out more.
“Before I got into this tea lark I used to work in a bar” says Mike from Bluebird as he dips the rim of a mug into pomegranate juice mixed with sugar and fills said mug with a delicious ginger tea cocktail. “It’s nice to do something vaguely bar-ish!” Bluebird have three tea cocktails on the menu and Creative Nottingham can confirm the ginger one is excellent. For our next visit we’re planning on the Rudolph’s Red Nose cocktail (slow gin and Christmas cake tea with amaretto – served hot). To please our designated driver readers we did also try a cup of Bluebird’s ginger chai and that gets a thumbs up too. But before I get carried away with the drinks, perhaps I should talk to Krisi Smith, Chief Teabird, and the force behind the boutique.
“We set up Bluebird in June,” she says. “We spent the summer doing market research at events, markets and pop ups like this. It gave us the chance to test the products and see what worked well without having many overheads. As we’re a young company we were selected for the Mary Portas pop up scheme in London and since that gave us a lot of help, we decided to do the same thing in my home town of Nottingham. It’s great to be able to help showcase other businesses.”
“We’re really pleased to have the pop up here at Barton’s” says Simon of Barton’s. “Let’s face it, if it worked well in London, it’s bound to be better in Chilwell.”
The pop up houses 15 local businesses hand picked by Krisi and her Bluebird team, many of them in their infancy as well. Feeling suitable refreshed from the tea and a slice of Hartland Pie’s pork pie (to die for – and I never thought I’d say that about a pork pie) I wander about to talk to the other stall holders.
Sumeer Kalyani from Pickle and Spice tells me that he’s a pretty new company too. “We knew Bluebird from the regular indoor market at Barton’s and thought this would be a good way to test out more products. We want to encourage people to cook more curries at home – it’s pretty easy and can taste great so we offer a wide range of spices to help make it as good as possible.” The prime product on Sumeer’s table is a traditional Indian tin of seven spices that comes in a free jute bag with recipe cards. It couldn’t get easier.
From India to France as we move onto the stall from Aubrey’s creperie. Creative Nottingham is slightly embarrassed to admit that, despite many recommendations, we haven’t yet sampled the delights of Aubrey’s. Luckily this doesn’t stop Meg Hale from Aubrey’s talking to us and showing us her wares – a delectable range of Breton ciders (“suitable for accompanying all our food”), biscuits and salted caramels as well as British spreads that they use to fill the crepes. “We use independent producers,” she says. “I really like the idea of this market, and it’s nice to get out of the shop for a while!”
Helen and Gaynor from Handmade for Little Rascals are another brand spanking new business. “We had the idea about a year ago,” says Helen. “We’ve been going from about June time though.” Little Rascals make lovely children’s clothes and the idea for the business came after Helen’s daughter’s first birthday. “I made her a dress and then realised that I could do that for other people. I used to work with Gaynor in the textile business and we got together to start Handmade for Little Rascals.”
“We only have a limited amount of each print,” said Gaynor. “So we can only make a limited number of clothes from each one which helps to make each garment even more special. But we also wanted to make sure that we priced things reasonably.”
As a yarn fan, I can’t help but spend some time looking at Millykins’ stall and the range of crocheted items from Quirky Purple (including Tardis themed kindle covers for the special geek in your life) but the range of stalls also includes cosmetics, children’s costumes, toys, jewellery and cards. And finally, Nottingham’s Magpie brewery are on hand for a trusty pint.
Music for the evening is provided by My First Band and quite lovely it is too. But don’t rush to download it – he’s a vinyl only artist on Mesters label who have a range of records available to buy at the boutique. As I said, there’s something for everyone.
For a full list of stockists at the pop up boutique check out the pop up’s page on Bluebird’s website. And get yourself down to Chilwell before Christmas to make the most of this excellent and very welcome shopping experience!