BACKING LOCAL BUSINESSES THIS CHRISTMAS
With Christmas just around the corner, we caught up with some of our local business customers to find out how they are making this festive season extra special for their customers. From gorgeous gifts and tasty treats to decadent displays and sustainable sourcing, it’s safe to say these businesses are going the extra mile to create a magical atmosphere!
SAVOUR ‘SOMETHING DIFFERENT’ AT SAWERS BELFAST
Kieran Sloan, owner of Sawers - one of Belfast’s oldest delis – says that they pride themselves on offering ‘something different’ for enjoying at home, or as a gift over the festive season. “Many of our customers come in and tell us that it wouldn’t be Christmas without a visit to Sawers! We’re so grateful to the local community for coming together to support the store and we like to make sure it’s worth it through the range on offer! If I had to pick one item, I would say our homemade chilli jam. We typically sell around 4,000 in December alone.”
With their own ‘Sawers’ range produced in Enniskillen and many other products sourced within Northern Ireland, the business is a champion of local producers. “We try to cater for the high-end market, focusing on good quality while supporting local families and talented artisans in our community,” says Kieran.
While the team at Sawers enjoy the Christmas season, Kieran says 2022 holds some even more exciting plans for the business. “Our online platform really took off earlier this year and we plan to expand on this with a new development. We’re hoping to take over nearby premises and create an Italian style café, this will mean people shop with us and sit down to enjoy the produce on offer.”
One thing is for sure if you visit Sawers this Christmas you’ll be greeted with a smile and will leave with something special!
WE’RE A ‘ONE STOP CHRISTMAS SHOP
Woods Supermarket has been proudly serving the people of Tandragee, County Armagh since 1972. Led by Phillip Woods, the popular family business is looking forward to another busy festive season, “from the seasonal gifts we have in store to the festive menu in our restaurant; we are a one-stop shop for Christmas shoppers, says Philip. “I’ve been doing this for over 30 years now and it’s always an exciting time of year!”.
“People love coming to get fresh food for their Christmas dinners and we pride ourselves on the variety we have on offer - you can get it all here, there are butchers counters, turkeys, gammons, party food, freshly prepared meals and party platters.”
Phillip is hugely proud of the connection the store has with its customers, “there’s a fantastic buzz around the place at Christmas, once Halloween passes we really are in to Christmas mode and we love creating that sense of theatre with our displays and decorations. We pride ourselves on the personal touch here, most of our staff are long standing team members and know customers on a first name basis.”
The Armagh community have been a huge support to Woods’ in recent times, “footfall is continuing to grow, and we are constantly innovating and developing the customer experience in store, we were absolutely delighted to be awarded the ‘UK independent retailer of the year’ in London in September which really makes all of our hard work worthwhile”.
Looking ahead to 2022, sustainability is set to be a key focus for Phillip and his team who have been rolling out initiatives such as fully compostable coffee cups, encouraging customers to buy loose produce, and sourcing bio-degradable packaging.
Phillip is glad to have AIB backing the business “We have a 40-year relationship with AIB, so there have certainly been a few different faces over the years! AIB has always shared our vision and worked with us to help Woods grow as a business and in our sector and we are delighted to have them on board as we head into 2022”.
A WINTER WONDERLAND IN COUNTY TYRONE
A E Kenwell’s is a Christmas shopping destination that has been serving the people of Dromore and further afield for more than 100 years.
A general merchant shop for most of the year, Kenwell's transforms into a Christmas wonderland in the build-up to the festive season and David Kenwell, who runs the family business, explains how there is always huge anticipation in the community ahead of its opening.
“We have people calling year-round asking when we will be opening for Christmas, so we were delighted to get the doors open mid-October this year. We have visitors coming from across the country and we are proud to be a huge part of people’s traditions here in Dromore.”
With over 35,000 decorations on display, there is certainly no shortage of options for people to choose from, “people like to visit for different reasons, some like to do some window shopping and see the new trends for the season and some people simply like to visit for nostalgic reasons, as they would have visited here as children and now they are coming with their own families”.
AE Kenwell’s is a visual experience for shoppers and something which the staff work hard to create each year “we try to create different Christmas scenes throughout the store, every tree is individually decorated and each decoration carefully placed, so people can imagine how things will look in their own homes, take photos and get caught up in the magic of it all - we try to do something different that you just don’t see in ordinary retail.”
“AIB has very much been part of our journey, they have been supportive and accommodating for our business which has been a huge benefit especially after the uncertain year we’ve had.”
GRAINNE GIVES THE GIFT OF BEAUTY
For lovers of all things makeup ‘Give us Beauty’ is the perfect gifting destination Customers will be in expert hands with former Apprentice candidate and social media star Grainne McCoy at the helm.
Grainne admits that being ‘bored’ during lockdown led to her setting up her own online store which evolved into a retail shop in Newry. “I’ve been in the makeup industry since I was 16 and standing in the store and realising it’s mine is like a dream come true” says Grainne. She adds that being closed last year has made her even more excited for this year’s festive shopping season and that she’s already planning for Christmas 2022!
The local touch can be felt throughout the store as Grainne notes she “treats all her customers like her friends” and offers a bespoke gifting service tailored to each customer. The aptly named ‘Christmas Selection Box’ is fully customisable and built with the recipient in mind. When someone purchases a gift box from ‘Give us Beauty’ they receive a complimentary consultation with Grainne so she can ensure the box suits their needs and “there are no products they won’t use”.
Grainne also adds her own line of makeup brushes set to be one of the stores most sought-after products this Christmas. Her second brush release ‘The Perfection Collection’ hasn’t even launched yet and she has already seen a huge demand online for pre-orders.
Makeup lovers should act quickly if they hope to secure the highly coveted Christmas gifts from Newry’s new makeup wonderland!
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