Caption: Sarah Dunning - Big Boss, Westmorland Ltd
Caption: Divine chocolate from Seed & Bean
Caption: Classy, rustic Broste glassware
I really like giving presents but don't enjoy trawling around trying to find them and ending up disappointed. I want to find wondrous, unusual things that will give the recipient a smile and at least a moment of indulgent joy. So I am filled with glee, when I find a port of call that I can go to, whenever a present is required. Luckily for me living in Cumbria I’m not too far away from the shopping gems that are the shops at Tebay Services near J38 on the M6 and the Rheged Centre in Penrith. Bizarre to think that shops at a services, somewhere I’d normally pop into en route to somewhere else, can help me solve my present dilemmas.
The shops at the Westmorland Ltd venues don’t just do good by satisfying my present buying needs. A proportion of the gourmet goodies on offer are supplied by small artisan producers, like us, with many also being locally sourced. Sarah Dunning, the big boss at Westmorland Ltd explained that the company’s ethos involves celebrating local produce and seeking out handcrafted, unique, beautiful products. That’s what makes Tebay Services and Rheged so refreshing, they’re packed with intriguing things for all budgets that you don’t see everywhere else. Sarah said “it is exactly the small producers which are sometimes harder to reach that we believe make our business what it is”.
It’s not just fabulous foodie gifts such as divine chocolate by Seed & Bean that fills the shelves there either, there are toys and things for little ones so delightful that for a second I want a child, but then I change my mind, distracted by the captivating collection of cookery books on offer. At Rheged there are elegant clothes, posh pampering products and stylish homeware products such as simplistically stylish Scandinavian Broste vases, and sophisticated stationery and wrapping paper that makes me want to stroke it.
Tebay Services came about when Sarah’s father learned that the M6 motorway was planned to cut through the family farm, and it is the farming heritage that underpins the company’s philosophy of locality and community. Independent shops like Tebay make it possible for artisan producers to survive and grow, and with Tebay’s offerings attracting over three million visitors in the past year, it is a great place for small producers to expose their wares to a huge audience. It’s no wonder the company have such a respected reputation, have successfully applied their approach to Gloucester Services, and have racked up awards to boot! I’ve always been drawn towards independent shops and their decidedly different gift options, but being an artisan producer has given us a whole new appreciation and even stronger desire to seek out hand-crafted, quirky things, and buy our pressies from those who champion small producers.