THE disruptive impact of the coronavirus is considerable, and will continue to be so for months to come. The independent shops in Shaftesbury are a strong feature of the town, and will need a lot of support to stay afloat.
Many food outlets have adapted, providing takeaway or delivery services. Some, including Coconut and Cotton, will deliver locally. Shaftesbury Wines will also deliver locally. But most shops will remain closed to visitors until it is deemed safe to re-open – an updated list of retailer status is available at This is Alfred website.
In the meantime, many retailers have an online shop where you can browse magnificent North Dorset gifts and produce, perfect for North Dorset ‘expats,’ and for those living here who’d like to send a gift to friends and family further afield.
So do take a look at their sites. Many will still be able to dispatch products immediately, some may take a while longer, some have closed operations for the duration. But all will need huge support in 2020 to ensure long-term health, and keep Shaftesbury thriving as a must-visit destination.
WHERE TO BUY NORTH DORSET ONLINE:
FOOD AND DRINK
This gluten-free and vegan plant-based food company in East Orchard, Shaftesbury, was created in 2018 by Jasmin Giles, who is passionate about promoting healthy eating, and the positive affects this can have on our bodies, the environment and our general well being. The range of ‘no-bake’ bars and ‘bliss balls’ are made using nuts, seeds, dried fruits and nutrient dense ingredients. It’s health-conscious eating, and G&G works with a yoga retreat and nutritionist locally. Jasmin also runs a catering business as well as selling her treats online.
The four bars (Raw Snickers, Orange & Almond, Berry Bounty and Salted Maca Millionaire) can be bought online (eight bars for £16.50).
Shaftesbury was left bereft when its deli-cum-cafe Turnbulls closed down last year. Happily, deputy manager Carolyn Hopkins put her extensive knowledge of cheese to set up a new venture: The Truckle Truck, a cheesemonger on wheels. Her distinctive 1969 French Citroen truck Susie is often seen at market in town and elsewhere dispensing her renowned gorgonzola (other cheeses available, some of the finest of this region, the UK generally and overseas) – and now Carolyn has put her fare online, with some 15 cheeses available at the time of checking (plus various biscuits and accompaniments).
Gifts include a Best of the West cheese hamper from £55-£75; a one kilo Dorset Blue Vinney (£25) or a baby Colston Bassett Stilton (£47).
There is a 20-mile cycling foodie tour of North Dorset, beginning and ending in Shaftesbury – you can read about it here. The tour runs by The Real Cure, an excellent charcuterie sourced primarily from Dorset pork and venison. Here James Smart is busy curing, smoking and air drying to create a range of salami, chorizo and air dried hams. There’s also some smoked trout. There’s no shop at his farm (although there is a pop-up outlet this month) but you can call in advance (07970 000681) and James will try to accommodate a visit.
The online shop includes hamper boxes and gift sets, charcuterie and bacon curing kits, as well as a voucher for one of James’s charcuterie courses.
Jemma began her personal love of plants in childhood: her mother and grandfather were passionate gardeners and she grew up with an understanding of that special relationship between plants and people. She has a degree in Health Science and Medicinal Plants with a specialism in treating skin conditions. She returned to her country roots and set up in Shaftesbury in 2007. All her products are now Soil Association certified as organic and natural and her latest product is soap on a rope – see below.
Tangerine Turmeric Soap on a Rope is scented with a citrus blend of tangerine, bergamot, and litsea enriched with cocoa butter and olive oils: £12.
The Botanical Candle Co started making soy wax candles in 2014 as an alternative to paraffin. As the business has grown rapidly, it took over the shop premises of Enchanted Plants in Shaftesbury where there is a team of six hand pouring, packing and dispatching thousands of candles every month. It’s a story of rapid growth and brilliant marketing – you can also buy direct from their Instagram page on mobile, a thing of wonder (and with 18,000 followers, testimony to the quality and appeal of the products).
The clementine and clove utility tin soy wax candle comes in a 250ml recyclable or reusable steel tin and lasts for 40 hours: £14. Free UK delivery for orders above £40.
Don’t be put off by the name – craftsman Martin Allen designs cuts and hand stitches his vegetable tanned leather into bags, totes, satchels, belts and other accessories at home in Guy’s Marsh, using only hand tools and traditional methods: there are no machines in his leather workshop, making each piece totally unique. All his products are named after places in the area – the Pimperne Clutch, Tisbury laptop bag, Wardour satchel etc., You can visit and buy at Martin’s workshop by appointment. Read a feature on Martin here.
This is the Donhead Duffel, made from tanned leather with brass fittings, with 1,300 stitches which took more than 16 hours. £100.
Lucy Barfoot opened her shop in Swan’s Yard a year ago. Such has been her success that the 23-year-old has now doubled her floorspace by taking the unit next door too! Plastic-free, affordable and sustainable are her three tenets: a “plastic free, waste reducing store for the earth conscious consumer”. The store also offers household refills in addition to our plastic free products, while Lucy has added a huge portfolio of products online. They range from soaps, bags and accessories to chewing gum, suncream and toilet paper. A range of books has also been added recently.
A wooden shaving brush with vegan bristles is on sale for £10, frequently bought alongside soap with orange and lavender essential oils, soothing aloe vera and clay for a natural velvety lather. “Suitable for men and women: beards, legs and everywhere in-between.” Soap: £2.80 extra.
Another new shop on Shaftesbury’s High Street this year, it specialises in girls’ and boys’ clothes and accessories, with a section on nursery and toys. It’s a mother and daughter operation and has been very well received in the town, with new lines appearing regularly and plenty of stock. The online shop is very well laid out and easy to navigate: shipping is via Royal Mail and allows returns within 14 days. An Instagram page too.
This animal cuddle bear (34 x 26 cms) is made from organic cotton with recycled polyester filling, £19.96
This Semley couple met as furniture design students and, since 2000, have produced bespoke furniture. Then one day… “It was by chance, in the workshop, that a section of ash veneer was left on the lightbox. Inspired by its translucent beauty, we designed our first light, combining a single sheet of veneer and a rectangle of brass. That has since grown into a range of lights, all designed with a regard for simplicity of form and made with attention to detail and finish. You don’t have to become a wood fanatic (like us), but everyone needs a light, so why not make it a great one?”
This is The Moth, a ceiling lightshade in ash or walnut with brass fittings. It retails at £540.
Based near Shaftesbury, with the aim of helping to keep the heritage craft of the Dorset Buttons industry alive. Set up by Anna McDowell, who sells buttons through the Cygnet Gallery, Shaftesbury (see above). Rings, kits and instructions for making Dorset Buttons are sold online.
This booklet has comprehensive instructions on how to make Dorset Buttons, including all four ranges of Dorset Buttons and their variations. Areas covered include High Top buttons, Dorset Knobs, Birds Eye and Singleton buttons, Dorset Cartwheels and Blandford Crosswheel buttons. The booklet also covers the Cartwheel variations including how to work with beads and the bouquet and tree buttons. It retails at £6.
Hand made dog coats and terrier tunnels are made from the company base near Shaftesbury. All shapes and sizes, handmade in a range of fabrics including waterproof, tweed, wool and hi-viz. Also harnesses and dog accessories, from collars to toys and beds. The ‘Perfect Fit’ harness offers maximum adjustment to ensure a perfect comfortable fit for all breeds of dog (and cats, even rabbits). The workshop is usually open, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday 10.30am – 3.30pm. Often somebody is there at other times and days and is open by appointment.
This is a dog lifejacket for small dogs weighing under 7kg, with a Grab Handle and Padded chest straps. It retails for £29.
The jewellery, watch and gift shop in Shaftesbury has been running for 21 years. Martin and Tina Dyer also design and create their own jewellery which is exclusive to the shop, and made by hand in Dorset using fine gemstones and pearls with sterling silver and gold vermeil. There is currently a huge range items in the online shop – necklaces, bracelets and earrings – ranging from £15 to £189.
This pair of filigree sterling silver butterfly wing earrings cost £39.
This is an independent lifestyle boutique on Shaftesbury High Street under new ownership since September 2017, with two floors of shopping and a healthy online store. “Our aim is to provide a beautiful environment to find the perfect gift or outfit,” is the slogan, with Mine offering gifts, accessories, skincare and women’s clothing. The website reflects that, with added sections for children’s accessories and beauty/bathroom products. They are, in the main, small accessory and gift items under £20 – perfect for last minute fillers.
One from Mine’s new wash bag collection – bright vibrant colours and “a hint of bling its an absolute winner!” Each wash bag comes with a gold lightening bolt charm and most styles are available in two different sizes: £22.
Jasper has been in the woodworking industry for more than 27 years specialising in timber framing, flooring, joinery, cabinet work and other elements. Now he creates furniture created mainly from reclaimed oak or pitch pine in his workshop off The Causeway, just two miles west of Shaftesbury. Oak tables and chairs, pine tables (from £600), a gorgeous oak coffee table (£325) and mirror (£120) currently feature on his online shop. Bespoke commissions welcome.
This Gnarly Reclaimed oak clear waxed table with folded steel legs costs £350. A bench will cost £180, or £500 if bought as a set. The table is 720mm wide, 1539mm long and 740mm high.
MORE SHAFTESBURY AND NORTH DORSET PRODUCTS AVAILABLE ONLINE
FOOD AND DRINK
* MV Winery: the winery just south of Shaftesbury has, since October, made its wines and sparkling available online
* The Donhead Cider Company, which is produced in Shaftesbury, has its cider in bottles and pouches available, also a sparkling cider and presentation pack.
* Stoate & Sons of Cann Mills, Shaftesbury, has been milling stoneground flour since 1832, and sells 1.5kg, 8kg and 25kg sacks online. Make your own bread for Christmas!
* Virginia Hayward hampers is a family firm based in Shaftesbury and employs 70, a figure which trebles in the run-up to Christmas: it sends out 400,000 hampers in December alone.
* Treasures of Dorset is a county-wide shopping portal that includes greeting cards featuring Shaftesbury scenes, and Flaming Coffee products, whose roastery is based in Shaftesbury.
* Designed in Dorset is another county-wide portal that launched in 2019 from its Shaftesbury base. It’s very much a work in progress (charcuterie, textiles and accessories so far) but it has big ambitions and one to keep an eye on!
PANARY runs a selection of one, two or three-day craft baking courses at Cann Mills, a working watermill on the outskirts of Shaftesbury. Class sizes are limited to five places to ensure a small group and friendly atmosphere. You can buy a voucher for £100, or for one of the courses: the price ranges from £185 to £490.
THE Fontmell is a popular pub with a restaurant with six rooms. The pub is built over the village stream in Fontmell Magna and flows between the bar and dining room. Vouchers are available at any value from £25 towards a stay, drinks and/or meal.
COMPTON Abbas airfield is three miles south of Shaftesbury, situated high up on Fontmell Down with stupendous views to the town and far beyond. There is a magnificent cafe and a lively atmosphere, and it is possible to fly in a range of aircraft, including a 1950s Chipmunk, open-air Stearman and a 1940s Harvard warplane. There are endless options, from a 20-minute flight in the Stearman for £180 to a £1,189 package for flights in all three, with lunch, fizz and extras.