Shopping local has our Greg in Wraptures

Malcolm Smith makes his non-alcoholic Nordic mulled wine watched by Kath Jones.
Malcolm Smith makes his non-alcoholic Nordic mulled wine watched by Kath Jones.

Christmas is now so wrapped up in commercialism that buying for the season ceases to be enjoyable, and instead turns into a chore of a mad rush.

Many of us do our last-minute Christmas shopping in some far-flung city centre, through the internet or in the nearest supermarket. And I’m equally guilty for making festive shopping as convenient as possible.

So after banging on about the importance of shopping local for months in our #SOSMorecambe campaign, last Wednesday morning it was time to put my money where my mouth is.

Armed with a carrier bag, myself and photographer Nigel Slater ventured out onto the streets of Morecambe town centre in the piercing sub-zero chill, to find out if it really is worth shopping local. First stop was the Pottery Basement. A fixture in town for 45 years, the Pottery Basement was initially tucked away underground on the alleyway round the corner of Skipton Street.

Today it’s grown into a street-level treasure trove of kitchenware and ornaments housed in the old Ladbrokes bookies, fronted by a welcoming double-bayed display window.

After a washing-up accident saw the demise of my old teapot with matching cup and saucer, I need a new one.

For £3.95, a dainty black set with white polka dots is just the ticket.

As he wraps my gift, shop owner Dave Bradshaw says Christmas is a bumper time in the crockery trade.

“We’re selling crystal wine glasses, dinner sets, everything really,” he says.

“I’m busy, but I’ve also started supplying plates and crockery for Mitchell’s pubs too, and that’s really taken off.”

Clearly the modern shopkeeper needs to diversify to survive. During our campaign, this has been a common theme.

My next port of call is Wrapture, next door to Potts Pies.

Upon entering, we’re immediately hit with the ‘wow factor’.

The Anderton Street premises used to be split between Wrapture and a hairdressers until the salon moved out a few months ago.

Wrapture owners Sara and Alan Pendlebury then expanded to fill the entire double shop floor with their quirky collectables and gifts. The result is a magical place like the quality gift shops found in a Lake District village.

Mum-of-four Sara shows us this season’s pride and joy - Bosky Mouse and Squizzle, two bedraggled cuddly mice with long droopy noses. Popular even in Harrods, the snuggly pair are flying off the Wrapture shelf at £15.99 and £11.99 respectively.

Scented bath sets, Gorjuss-branded handbags and dolls, limited edition Charlie Bear teddies, soft toy Gruffalos and Moomins...a plethora of potential pressies can be found.

“We’re trying to be completely different to everyone else in town and we get great feedback from our customers,” says Sara.

I’ll add to the praise. But I won’t tell you what I bought in Wrapture. Sshhh, it’s a secret ‘til December 25.

A brisk walk across Pedder Street takes us to the Plaza Arcade, and through the doors of another of Morecambe’s well-kept shopping secrets, the Sugar Lounge and Madam Chocolat.

We’re greeted by its owners, couple Malcolm Smith and Kath Jones, who good-naturedly laugh at my ‘alias’ quip. (They’ve probably heard it countless times before.) Malcolm pours us his warming home-made Nordic non-alcoholic mulled wine.

It’s a cinamonny delight and an absolute godsend on the coldest day of the year.

For £3 you can combine a cupful with a yummy gingerbread cupcake made by Kath, a talented cake and pastry chef whose customers include Colleen Rooney and the Manchester United team.

Open Tuesdays to Fridays, 11am to 4pm, the Sugar Lounge is a unique combination of chic café, sweet shop and a place to hire their chocolate fountain equipment for weddings, parties and special occasions.

And it sells Sherbet Dabs too.

Now that takes me back.