Whitstable’s new independent business, Nomad Pizza, has been shortlisted for the Pizza and Pasta Association Best Independent Delivery Award 2020 for the prestigious PAPA Industry Awards, recognising the best pizza in the UK.
Owners, Vicki and Jon say the key to their success is making their dough daily with organic flour as well as using fresh local produce such as Kent cheeses and meat from local butchers. They value employing local staff and continuously seek to support local charities and collaborate with local businesses. The company name is based on the idea that Vicki and Jon’s pizza journey has been on from coast to coast, and equally celebrates their shared love of travel.
After moving to Kent from Cornwall, the pair have sustained their mantra of “good food not fast food” by replicating their unique product in the Garden of England. To pay tribute to their new location, Jon and Vicky have named each pizza after an apple. For example, ‘Rambo’, ‘Scrumptious’, ‘Red Devil,’ and ‘Tiddly’ for their smallest pizzas after the smallest of apples – the ‘Tiddly Pomme’.
Since opening in August, the company has gone from strength to strength. Jon says he is incredibly grateful to the local community for their support and crowd funding to get the business up and running. He says: “I am absolutely thrilled that in three months of opening a business we have been short listed for such a prestigious award”.
Jon admits he took a gamble opening in the middle of a pandemic but the risk certainly paid off. He also adds that he could not have done it without the help of his amazing team and champions that “You can do anything you put your mind too”. The results for the awards
Why did you set up in Whitstable? Having found a new career in Reflexology my business actually started in my back garden. But in 2003 I was presented with an opportunity to open a salon in the heart of Whitstable, which at the time had no other beauty salons. Move on 16 years and we are proud to be the Spa on the High Street. More recently I have opened a second salon in Canterbury.
What do you love about your business and working here? I love what I do, I have a really good team, we care about people and how they feel. We are like a little community, some of our clients feel like family. A few of our older clients that have been coming in for years make us want to adopt them as our Nan! We have built relationships with people during our time here and if we haven’t seen them in a while, we will call to make sure they are okay. Providing relaxing treatments and making people feel good about themselves makes you feel like you are doing something that will make a positive difference to them. We also find out a lot about people in our work, they open up and share some amazing stories. We are very privileged to meet some inspiring people.
Why did you choose to work in this business in particular? I was always wanted to be a nurse to help people but I wasn’t academic, so I completed a secretarial course and started working in a local estate agency. The need for helping people never went away though and in 1999, after starting a family, I qualified as a practitioner in reflexology and started working from home. I then met my ex-business partner, she did beauty, so we collaborated and worked together, opening the salon. I then added beauty to my training. This was never my plan in life but feel very appreciative of what I’ve got and what I’ve achieved. I’m still delighted when the phone rings for a treatment booking.
Is there anything special about yourbusiness and what makes you different We look after the whole person holistically, rather than a short-term fix. It is not about walking through the door and just having an eyebrow wax, it’s about the calming atmosphere, the comfy couch and having “me” time. I work intuitively, with my gut instinct and after 16 years I’ve learnt to trust this. As I mentioned earlier, everything we do comes from a holistic approach so we only work with products that are in line with this. All our skincare-based treatments; facials and massage use ELEMIS and we love our Youngblood makeup range for their brand ethos. They have also just launched a Vegan range of make-up brushes
Who inspired you? I meet so many inspirational people in this job, both clients and other business owners, talking and sharing their life’s experiences helps to build my own confidence and inspire me. I work with the Whitsparkle Group which is made up of some very dynamic and inspirational ladies. I love working within the community and started a WhatsApp group for the traders in town to keep each other up to date with any issues etc we all face, making them aware of anything that’s important for us all.
How do you take your coffee? I don’t drink coffee, love the smell and hate the taste. (Diet Coke), Water or wine is my preferred drink.
What do your customers say about you? I’d like to think they would say they get more than just their treatment. Sometimes it is almost like a counselling session. Also, we have a great team here. My manageress has been with me for 16 years and I hope that customers say that we make them want to come back.
Why do you think shopping local is important? Shopping local is so important for the community and human beings like to feel like they have a community around them and are involved. If we kill the high streets, we are killing the future. If there is no high street, where will I walk to when I am retired? What about the person who lives for their pension day to say hello to people and have a good reason to get out? We will isolate people if the high street isn’t supported.
What has been your proudest moment or biggest achievement? My three boys. Getting them out into the big wide world to be as sensible as possible!
What’s your best-selling treatment? Our eyebrow waxing. My best one is my reflexology which is my real passion.
Which other shops in Whitstable or Tankerton would you recommend to your customers?Loads! If I was to pick a top three, Indie is my favourite shop which has just launched, George’s is a great treasure trove and Taking the Plunge is a beautiful gift shop. For lunch in Whitstable I’d send people to Tea and Times or Thai Orchid. For Tankerton, I would say the Polkadot card shop is lovely and the Bears Trading for lunch with the Tankerton arms for a good pint.
Editor’s Note: Janine Knell is the perfect example of a ‘people-person’ and I can see how her customers have been coming back to her after 16 years!
There’s three people behind this door, Jo, Caroline and Jenny who offer a warm welcome, ‘down the path and through the garden’ at Whistable’s only community centre café.
Why did you choose to set up in Whitstable/Tankerton Jo – It was accidental opportunity in a way. I was fascinated with the building and had always wanted to run a community café. After being in Whitstable for six months the tender came up to take over the café so I applied. Caroline was born in Whitstable had also put forward her name in the tender so we were brought together by the trustees. After meeting we realised we had the same ideas and ethos, so opened the café together in 2015 and Jenny joined later.
Caroline – there was a gap in the market in Whitstable for a space that was big enough for pushchairs and wheelchairs with a warm welcome to come in and relax.
What do you love about your business and working here? Caroline – The flexibility of the job and the social interaction with the customers and helping people, I feel like that is in my nature. I feel like I’ve found my niche really!
Jo – Everything we do is two-way, there is a community link between us and the customers, relationships between us and other community groups and individuals.
Are there any funny anecdotes that you can share? When we were opening, we needed so much furniture and kitchenware so we cheekily approached local celebrity potter Keith Brymer Jones who gave us 40 mugs for free. He still supplies us at a heavily reduced price today!
Nigel Slater and Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall have also liked our tweets, and that was really exciting.
What is special about your products? Without sounding too sentimental, the food is made with love and goodwill. We like to bring together people meeting over food and drink. We are not for profit and we are proud to be the only Community Interest Company (CIC) on Whitstable High Street. We are passionate about no waste and manage to achieve that. We get Fareshare hampers and share food with the community via this and our pay it forward scheme. And if we get fruit and veg from the local greengrocer, we get to work on chutneys and jams – we use everything!
Who inspired you? On the food side, anyone that cooks with that real love, someone like the zero-waste chef and the ethos behind food not being fancy, just wholesome. We also like the Wallflower in Herne Bay and what they do. We try to find cafes and restaurants with our similar ethos when we go out to eat with our families.
How do you take your coffee? Jo – it’s an oat flat white for me
Caroline – a good cuppa for me, made with loose leaf tea that we get from Chai Wallah Margate.
What do your customers say about you? Jo shares some postcards with comments on that customers have left for them: “Lovely food, excellent help and service” “Accessible for wheelchairs, lovely staff, unique cakes, what a welcoming place and I always enjoy a great atmosphere and good food.” “Delicious food and coffee, friendly and efficient staff and beautiful garden.” “Love the huffkins and homely feel.”
Why do you think shopping local is important? It is the economy of the town, if you don’t shop local then the High Street will disappear. Lots of people live and shop in the town and we support each other. If you spend money in the town, most of it stays in the town.
What has been your proudest moment or biggest achievement? Jo – That we achieved CIC status in 2018 that we are recognised as benefitting the community. Caroline – I’m proud when someone can wheel themselves into the café and order for themselves, seeing that independence that they can’t always get anywhere else, due to accessibility constraints.
What is your biggest selling item? A mug of loose-leaf tea, cake and pay it forward donations.
What other shops in Whitstable or Tankerton would you recommend to your customers? Caroline – Veronica at Tea & Times – she is the guru of coffee shops.
Jo – It’s not a shop open to the public, but our baker Tobi owns SlowBread which is based along Middle Wall, opposite Thai Orchid, but you can buy his wonderful bread from The Cheese Box and the farmers market.
Editor’s note: During the interview I was soaking up the mouth-watering aroma of a Bengalese curry cooking in the background. I couldn’t resist a portion for dinner that evening– it was delicious. I’m also definitely coming back to try the Redbush Chai Wallah loose leaf tea! Caroline and Jo also run the coworking space together called Hive based at the centre – a tempting place to work next to such good tea, coffee and food.
Copperfields has the type of window display that beckons a browse, even if you’re not looking for something in particular. Curious shoppers may be surprised to hear the owner Kim Foster imparting advice on a variety of topics from property prices to politics as well as the specialist cookware items – he has been in the town since 1975, so he knows a lot!
Why did you choose to set up in Whitstable I actually sold the shop more than 20 years ago, but that was acting as an estate agent in the town, so I knew the previous owners very well. They considered closing the shop five years ago. I just couldn’t let that happen. I could see the development potential and didn’t want a shop that has been independently owned since the 1880s to disappear from the High Street. I decided to buy it with my daughter Gemma. It has been many things in its time, a brewery, hotel and blacksmiths – in fact, our till is on the site of where the blacksmiths used to shoe the horses for the post office.
What do you love about your business and working here? I love the town and working with people, I’ve been here a long time. It’s like working in a village, although it’s a town it has a village atmosphere. You’ve got to like people and enjoy providing a service so I think this is the personal side that I enjoy really.
Are there any funny anecdotes that you can share? We do have a lot of celebrities come in, there’s a lot of people who have homes here, but we are quite protective of them as they are entitled to a normal life. But I’m sure Tom Kerridge won’t mind me giving him a mention. He comes into the shop and is a great chef and he does a lot with the Sportsman. We sometimes have Eastenders actors in, but I don’t always notice them until one of the girls give me a nudge.
What is special about your products? We spend a lot of time sourcing different cookware products and try to be individual and we will always endeavour to source something specific if our customer cannot find it in the shop. We travel to shows, factories and manufacturers to see what we can bring in that is different. We try to ensure that we have a high-quality product, so we never look for a high volume of sales, we look for customer satisfaction.
Who inspired you? My mother gave me most of my inspiration. I lost my father aged 7 and my mother brought up my sister and I and gave me that direction in terms of work ethic, motivation and principles. My (maternal) grandfather was a borough surveyor on the Isle of Sheppey and my interest of property came from him I think. My father’s family had the fishing fleet in Sheppey, so my grandfather was selling fish at Sheerness docks, we have photos of him with cockles in barrows. Those boats were built in Whitstable so I feel like I’ve always had a link between my roots and Whitstable. On the food side I think it must have been Floyd. He was the first TV food chef that made cooking look easy and fun. I love all types of food with a particular love of middle eastern cuisine.
How do you take your coffee? I like Turkish espresso and I like certain cappuccinos – my favourite one in the town is the Tudor Tea Rooms – I love their coffee!
What do your customers say about you? When people come in here, they always say ‘we love this shop’ there’s a lot of people who come from all over the country and even if they come here twice a year, they will always come in. They know that what they buy is good quality and it lasts. I would say we are friendly; we don’t hard sell and try and have a bit of fun with our customers.
Why do you think shopping local is important? If people don’t shop local then shops don’t survive and you lose the high street and the community that comes with it. If someone shops with me and spends money in my shop, I spend mine in another local shop and then the money has a ripple effect of staying in the town economy. If we shop on a corporate basis then all this does is pay the shareholders. People receive a much better personal service too. My shoppers are a personality and not a number.
What has been your proudest moment or biggest achievement? In 2016 we won Best Independent Cookshop in the UK – but we never lose sight of the fact that we are a local community shop though.
What is your biggest selling item? We don’t have any one particular item. We won’t have things here that other shops will sell in the town. We say to our suppliers that we want it exclusively, but we do create a lot of things unique to us too. We work with artist Nigel Wallace to produce our own table mats, mugs and prints.
What other shops in Whitstable or Tankerton would you recommend to your customers? I think we have some great shops in Whitstable and Tankerton. If people come in here and we don’t have the product they are looking for I will always recommend another shop. We send people to George’s, Stocks or Whites of Kent. I will never send anyone to B&Q or any other out of town shops.
Editor’s note: Watch this space! Copperfield’s is expanding even more. We hope to be able to keep you up to date with the exciting developments early next year.
Before I interview shopkeeper Darren Simpson of the Bears Trading Company, I hear from various town sources that he is ‘The Man of Tankerton’. He humbly denies this (by declaring he is one of seven from The Talk of Tankerton team), but I can quickly tell that Darren is a man of creative conviction and a spirit that every independent trader needs on his side.
Why did you choose to set up in Tankerton We very nearly didn’t! Peter and I had been looking for premises for three years and had actually found a farm in Scotland for a bed and breakfast. Then this shop became available which used to sell fruit and veg with a tearoom attached. When we viewed it, the landlady was someone I had worked with previously at Whitstable Castle. It felt like it was meant to be. We renovated it in 2016 and opened in November. Inside we created it into a frontier-style trading post from the early 1900s with clad walls and bears over the fireplaces and we specialise in offering great food and coffee and ice cream in our tea room with gorgeous bears to cuddle and collect along with gift items. I was born in Castle Road and have lived in Whitstable all of my life, so it was great to be able to stay in the area.
What do you love about your business and working here? It’s so laid back here and we work with other traders, there’s no ‘them and us’ amongst the shops. To be able to call owners friends is a real achievement. Tankerton has a really strong community.
Are there any funny anecdotes that you can share? We did have a customer who knocked Peter out once by mistake! He was a dad who had rushed in to buy a present for his daughter’s birthday. He bought a 53-inch teddy bear and Peter carried it out to the gentleman’s car. He accidentally pulled the boot down on top of Peter’s head and knocked him out!
What is special about your products? We are both from a hospitality background, I’ve trained as a chef and worked in hotels, Peter used to work on cross channel ferries and we are both collectors and love our bears. We wanted to combine our passions into a business for ourselves and endeavour to give all our customers we welcoming, positive experience. On the bear side we have special cuddle bears for new-born upwards and the special collection bears such as the Charlie Bear collection and Steiff for serious collectors like ourselves. We have a lot of bear and food knowledge!
How do you take your coffee? Hot and black and it has got to be a decent one. We have a bespoke coffee blend here at Bears Trading that we created especially for us. We only ever tell customers three of the ingredients out of the four to keep it secret. It is a blend of Columbian, Brazillian, New Guinea arabica style coffee beans and the last one is a secret. We are really fussy about our coffee. A couple of times during the year we try to do a whole day of coffee tastings elsewhere. We have just done one in Brighton. We won’t do local tastings as we don’t want to duplicate what everyone else’s niche is, we will visit places such as London and Birmingham.
What do your customers say about you? We are well known for our banter with our customers. Peter and I are not your normal quiet shop keepers, once we get to know them we have a laugh and a joke. We sometimes have to warn new customers who may come in during fun chit-chat. It is like welcoming people into our own home. We just want everyone to feel welcomed even doggies!
Why do you think shopping local is important? To me local independent traders are the heart and soul of any community. There are people out there that rely on shops. We provide a space where people can feel welcomed and talked to, especially if they are on their own. With the Talk of Tankerton group, we give something back as the community too as they support us 52 weeks of the year and if they didn’t, we wouldn’t be here. We arrange new planters, clean up graffiti, arrange Christmas lights and it is all paid for by the local businesses.
What has been your proudest moment or biggest achievement? Being nominated for Great British High Street awards. This will also be our fourth Christmas here and with the Talk of Tankerton this Christmas is set to be the best yet. I am proud to work with a great team of people who have put their energy into bringing this together.
What is your biggest selling item? On the food side it would be our sticky salted caramel cake. On the gift side, it would definitely be our bears!
What other shops in Whitstable or Tankerton would you recommend to your customers? All of them! Any independent shop, go and support them and spend money in them. It is the only way high streets will survive. Even if you just browse and say hello– it all helps.
Editor’s note: I’m planning to treat my mum to one of their famous savoury afternoon teas and make a guess at that fourth ingredient in their bespoke coffee blend.
Find out more about your local shops and businesses when we go behind the door and talk to the people who own and run them. In this campaign we are finding out interesting facts about the businesses and putting names and faces to the people who they belong to.
We asked friend of Shop by the Sea, Jodi Eeles to go out and find out what she could about the wonderful businesses in Whitstable & Tankerton and this is what she came back with!
Our campaign kicks off with the lovely Lucy from Georges Mini Market in the High Street.
Lucy Eason – third generation, from Saturday girl to owner.
I’m excited to go behind the door and meet the owner of the shop that my children adore when we come into Whitstable. Always guaranteed to find something for pocket money – we can never come away empty-handed.
An essential shop for impromptu trips to the seaside for buckets, spades and crabbing nets and more, George’s has been an iconic shop in Whitstable nearly 50 years, so what’s their success down to? The effervescent owner Lucy Eason, tells Shop by the Sea as we go behind the door of George’s.
Why did you choose to set up in Whitstable/Tankerton – I didn’t! George was my grandad and he chose to set up in Whitstable, but he was from Herne Bay. He set up in 1970 with one shop and now it has expanded across three frontages and is one of the largest independent units in the town. My Mum and Dad (Peter and Diana Hopkins) brought George out in the early 90s and were able to expand the business eventually into the three-shop frontage that it is today.
What do you love about your business and working here? I came on board as a Saturday girl (probably underage at the time) with my sister, and when I was 16, I didn’t know what I wanted to do, so I came into the business. My dad wasn’t sure there would still be a future for independent businesses at the time, but we are still here!
Two things that we love; one is the continual new stock, with the change in seasons and the change in ranges that we stock, so when a delivery comes in, it’s like Christmas – sometimes there is a shriek of ‘who ordered this?’. We do wonder who thinks of the things that we sell! We have really great links with our suppliers and reps because we have been here so long and that helps us to find unique items. The second thing is the culture of our staff, we are really tight-knit and we look after each other.
What is special about your products? They are fun and practical, all at the same time and a little bit unusual and interesting, which is a massive pull into the shop. We are always here for people who decide to visit last minute and need some essentials and those who are looking for that unique card or gift.
Who inspired you? My dad is the biggest inspiration, he was the one who set me along this path. I also find women in business inspirational now that I’m running a young family and a business.
How do you take your coffee? I love a cup of tea and the drinks breaks are essential to the smooth running of George’s! (I can vouch for this as a tea run update came across the walky-talky system between staff at one point during the interview). Our test of a Saturday person used to be – could they make a good cuppa!
What do your customers say about you? Aladdin’s cave, a treasure trove and they would say there’s always something to look at.
Why do you think shopping local is important? It is IMPERATIVE to the survival of all our independent businesses. We can’t survive as a business on our own. We need all the other independent shops on the high street to provide what makes Whitstable wonderful and what makes people come into Whitstable. They don’t come in just for one thing, but if they do, they have a plethora of other things to choose from for shopping and eating.
What has been your proudest moment or biggest achievement? Surviving! Just surviving really this long. I’m proud of the shop and how it looks. I’m proud of our staff and how they have adapted over time as things have changed. I am also massively proud that we have finally gone online, which is very daunting. It has been a huge challenge and taken us out of our comfort zone. We have injected our character into the website, which has taken our business beyond Whitstable. The majority of the online customers don’t live here, so it is a different offering. We have had orders from Belfast, Scotland. We are doing it to compensate on the losses that are in the shop as footfall has gone down historically in all high streets. It is not detracting from the high street, it is adding to our business.
What is your biggest selling item? We think it must be crabbing drop nets – the best entertainment money can buy across the summer!
What other shops in Whitstable or Tankerton would you recommend to your customers? All of them! As all together they create Whitstable and Tankerton’s greatest tapestry of shops. I am particularly fond of the coronation chicken sandwiches at Tea & Times though!
Editor’s note: As usual, I didn’t come away from George’s empty handed, but instead left with a wind-up trembling panda toy (my seven year old loves it), a grow your own panda and grow your own crystal tree – stocking fillers at the ready! Tip – Panda’s are the new unicorns!
Tankerton has been shortlisted for the Rising Star Award – Great British High Street 2019
The lovely High Street in Tankerton needs your support so please follow the link and vote for them. The folk at Talk of Tankerton work really hard putting on events and making the High Street look great and family-friendly, it will be really nice to see the hard work pay off and win the award. Good luck Tankerton!
As far back as the Romans, oysters were not the delicacy they are today, mainly eaten by the poor because they were cheap to buy or foraged from the sea. During the early 19th century the biggest provider of oysters worldwide was New York harbour.
As many as six thousand oysters could be found on barges along the city’s harbour on any one day and the people of the city loved them. They were a source of affordable nutrition and the industry provided much-needed employment for hundreds of local men and women.
Demand was so great it eventually drained many of the oyster beds, when foreign oysters were introduced in an attempt to help raise stock levels they also introduced disease, this along with effluent and a rise in sedimentation from erosion, most of the New York beds were empty by the beginning of the 20th century.
The popularity and demand for the wild oyster led to shortages which in turn led to big price increases, oysters were no longer accessible to the working classes and became the expensive delicacy they are considered today.
Wild oysters are especially are a great source of minerals including iron, zinc and selenium as well as vitamin B12 especially when eaten raw.
This weekend the famous Whitstable oyster is being celebrated at the family-friendly Oyster Festival, go along and have a taste of the sea there is nothing like it find out why they have been so popular for thousands of years.
Whitstable’s traditional charms, strong arts culture and rich maritime history sit easily with its renaissance. Its main streets are packed with craft shops and galleries, delis and fashion shops trading side by side with butchers and bakers. Stories from Whitstable’s past unfold at the town museum where history is brought to life in displays and permanent and temporary exhibitions.
Along the coast at Tankerton, grassy slopes dip to meet the sea, throwing out an invitation to visitors and locals to walk along the prom and take in some bracing sea air. And, of course, there are Whitstable’s oysters, which remain an intrinsic part of this sea town’s. Oysters and other fruits of the sea can be enjoyed in local restaurants and pubs or taken home from the fresh fish market at the harbour.