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What would I do without you?

It’s been 2 weeks since Bunyip had its light fingered visitor, and that awful feeling that I’d really messed it up this time washed over me and I felt the weight of the world on my shoulders.

So much has happened since, so many emotions, and November has run away and it’ll soon be Christmas and life isn’t going to let up so I thought it best to get something written now to catch you all up on the story.

Firstly I still feel a bit stupid about the whole thing. I know I should have been more careful but a working woman needs coffee. It feels wrong that I let my guard down for 1 minute, switched off, get distracted in the middle of a task and I’m punished for it. I still feel like having a trantrum and stamping my feet and shouting IT’S NOT FAIR at the top of my lungs. Most of you are aware of the journey Bunyip has had over the last 12 months or so. It’s not been easy, but of course you just keep your chin up, smile and keep going.

I didn’t really want to publicise what happened but I also didn’t want people to hear through the rumour mill  or wonder why I was in such a state and I think I made the right decision.

The whole social media sharing thing isn’t natural for me but I am so glad I let people know. It was a real eye-opener that people actually want to know what you’re going through, and I feel blessed by the reaction of my friends, customers, fellow traders, the City, the retail community and the wider crafting community. I’ve cried tears of frustration, joy, gratitude and relief. I’ve cried for no reason what-so-ever. I’ve been spending evenings reading through all your kind words, and incredible generosity. I’ve had cake, craft courses, earrings and vegetables thrust into my hands with such conviction I had no choice to accept – which is harder than you think! I’ve had people visiting the shop everyday and its been wonderful to see you all. I’ve had the 2 best weeks in this shop and on the website. It’s completely blown me away.

The Police have CCTV of the culprit entering and leaving the shop, but have been unable to find the cash box having followed his path after he left here, I’m waiting to hear if they have an clear shots of his face so we can try to identify him. The insurance claim is in and I’m crossing my fingers that they will accept my claim.

Your reaction has galvanised me to carry on and look forward with renewed hope for next year and the years after that. I’ve always seen Bunyip as a family business. Not just my family (although look out for Esme’s Scrunchy Business coming soon!) but the wider Exeter and Devon community of people who just love to make.

So THANK YOU, thank you thank you for your likes, your shares, your purchases, your hugs, your veg, your shoulders to cry on, your lovely comments, your wave of messages, your bags full of orders, and your love.

Mattie xx

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Bunyip Craft: the next adventure

Bunyip Craft will close it’s current bricks and mortar shop door for the last time on Sunday 23rd September.

It’s also the day of the fabulous Fore Street Flea so we want to have a really lovely day of celebration for the whole street. The response to our closure announcement has been overwhelming, and lovely, but always tinged with sadness for our customers and ourselves. It’s been tough. I’m not going to deny that writing this is hard.

The hunt for new premises has been thorough, nothing has magically appeared, as I think maybe I’d hoped. We’ve looked everywhere, but nothing has been available that is the right size, location and price for us. When you have to sign a long lease, the shop space has to be right for that commitment to be made.

Having said all that, there is brightness on the horizon. I’m working on a project that if it comes to fruition will be incredibly exciting for the whole creative community in Exeter. It’s had a great response from the people I’m working with already and we just have to all cross our fingers that it comes together. You will be the first to know if and when it happens…

In the meantime, Bunyip will be going into an office space. I might have a bit of a break, after 16 years in retail, I think I deserve it!

We will be working hard to make our wonderful website www.bunyipcraft.com the best it can be, along with updating our Etsy shop, MadebyBunyip. New photos, descriptions and products coming soon!

We’re looking forward to having some time to reinvent our creativity, I can’t wait to get making again and to have the time and space to design, create and experiment. Something I’ve really struggled to do while running a shop on a shoestring staff level. We’ve had lots of lovely offers of space for our workshops, from other shops, cafes and pubs, so we’ll be working on a new selection of workshops soon.  Our craft nights in the pub are a definite goer, with a wonderful independent pub keen to host, water and feed us, we can’t wait to get working on them. We’re going to be at the Cathedral Christmas Market from 15-23 November and 10-16 December, come and find us in front of the Cathedral. We’ve been accepted for the Etsy Made Local Exeter fair on Saturday 1st December at the Phoenix too. So we’re not going to disappear, far from it, I’m really hoping that all the ideas I haven’t been able to work on can grow and become the seeds of a new beginning for us. Retail is changing massively, so maybe this is just the beginning of the new face of retail, rather than an ending.

We have lots of amazing bargains in the MEGA SALE that’s started already, pop in for super deals and low prices on lots of stock. We really appreciate every purchase, online and in the shop while you can, each sale means we can carry on running Bunyip for a bit longer and carry on bringing you all your favourite crafty goodies!

Sign up for our newsletter on the home page, and like us on Facebook/Twitter/Instagram to stay in touch with our progress, we’ll be very keen to tell you all about it.

Thank you for all your support, encouragement and kindness over the past 16 years; Bunyip is a fundamental part of who I am and it’s the customers who have made it the friendly, inclusive and happy business that it is.

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Bunyip Craft, an update: week 1

It’s been a week since I sat down to share the news that Bunyip Craft was on the move. It’s been an incredible rollercoaster of a week, with tears and smiles, cake and support from all over the world and lovely, lovely comments and suggestions. I’ve had a piece on Devon Live and been on Radio Exe. I feel held together by the care, compassion and belief of so many people; friends, customers, family and people I’ve never met. Sometimes all your hard work is repaid in kindness.

The strong possibility that we’re not going to find a retail space to move into is slowly dawning, I was hoping something would instantly jump out of the bag, but it hasn’t happened so far. Please keep spreading the word for us.

Really genuinely lovely people have offered to share space with us, with so many different concepts that my business brain has been spinning. I’ve been offered workshop space, party space, a couple of bespoke jewellery range possibilities, those DIY craft pub nights are most definitely going to happen, I’m not the first person to think of the shared makers space and have some of the bigger influences of the arts community on my side.

I’ve been out and about: looking at trading estate office spaces, community spaces, searching about in Topsham, out of the way city shops, city centre offices and more. I have a list of the possible spaces, with pros and cons on each, none are exactly right, though some are very close. I’ve come to a few more realisations; I need to be in cycling distance of my kids school, the main change for us as a family, is that my husband is going to be working full time, so I need to be able to do school pick up and don’t want to get in the car everyday. If we do take on office space, while we wait for a retail opportunity to come our way, then it’s going to be much easier if it’s on the University side of town. I need to be able to store all my stock, paperwork and shopfit, so the office space can’t be tiny. I want to carry on doing parties and workshops, whether out of the office space or from some of the other spaces I’ve been offered, I’d like to be able to do ‘open days’ from any space we take so that customers can still come and see us and the stock before they buy.

I’m petrified of not having the day to day footfall and spend of customers. I really want to hold on to my wonderful staff, and will need to pay for any space we take on, so will need to carry on taking a decent sum each week. Can I do that from only my online sales?, will anyone want to take my crafty kits and jewellery wholesale? Can I have some time off before I start the next adventure, to get my head together and allow some creative freedom? It’s beginning to look like I need the cheapest yet biggest office space I can afford, which isn’t much to ask…

Meanwhile, Bunyip is still running as brilliantly as ever, the Sale has started on lots of end of lines so come in and grab them while stocks last, I will keep on adding more as time goes on. I’ll keep you updated on any further developments in the land of Bunyip Craft.

Enjoy the sunshine, we are!

 

 

 

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What happens next?

I like to think I am an endlessly positive person, especially where Bunyip is concerned, but this is a tough one to write and has been a tough decision. I’ve come out of the other side of the shame and failure, and am trying really hard to see change as good.

Bunyip Craft is on the move once again. The costs in our big, beautiful shop have become too onerous, despite cutting every cost to the bone, lowering staffing hours and working in the shop as much as I can. Business Rates have gone up twice since I’ve been here, and in the last re-evaluation the percentage discount the shop used to get for being landscape shaped rather than portrait shaped was taken away too, so my rates are almost entirely made up of retail zone A, ouch! Being over the VAT threshold doesn’t help either, with VAT at 20% many businesses struggle at this point of their growth.

My lease is up on 1st October and I just couldn’t afford to re-sign it. This is not because we’re not a successful business, we have a good take through the till, and online, but the costs are too high to be able to make the maths work and customer spend is going down. Our footfall is steady, as is our number of sales, but sales are getting smaller as customers feel the pinch and worry about their own incomes, Brexit and the world economy.

So, the upshot is, we are looking for a new premises, something more affordable, smaller certainly, but nothing right has presented itself yet. We would love to have a place with an office and workshop space, so that we can carry on with our parties and teaching, as well as the shop. We don’t mind where it is really, we hope we have the customer loyalty and brand recognition to take being off the main drag. If you know of anywhere, please get in touch, all offers considered!

This might be a chance to change the way I run the business, I’ve been running Bunyip for over 15 years now, and with 2 kids and a husband who can work more hours if I give him the time, life has changed a lot in that time.  I have loads of ideas I’d like to work on, I’d like to wholesale my jewellery making and sewing kits, along with making jewellery for other shops, I’d like to do more shows and craft fairs, I’d like to have time to spend on my website, Etsy shop and blog, I want to run DIY craft pub nights, I want to host Pop ups all over the place, I want to teach more, I want to have the flexibility to be able to run with an idea or offer that comes my way. I can’t do any of this at the moment because I have to be on the shop floor to sell a 40p metre of elastic or 6 buttons. I’m grateful for every person who’s bought that 40p metre, don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t have survived without you, but this might be time that I get to put my entrepreneurial and creative hats back on.

Retail is an ever fluid market, and the times, they are a changing. I think the future of retail may be in shared spaces, people working together to have the presence and knowledge each business needs to survive. I would love to be part of something like that in Exeter, and be as present in the fight for supporting Independent business in Exeter as I’ve ever been.

Please get in touch if you have any ideas, spaces for rent, wholesale opportunities or just want a chat, I’d love to hear from you on mattie@bunyipcraft.com or in the shop… for a while longer!

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Alex’s Things To Do In Exeter

 

Since I am a girl who likes shopping, what I most visited in these days are obviously shops! I am really enjoying all of those little cute shops and locals I can’t find in Italy, in particular in my town. From charity shops (as they are here) to museums, from the fashion cafes to the all-around-the-world restaurants. But I know I can’t spend all of my money on buying clothes: I need to travel – I love traveling – and explore the area around Exeter and this means I must have money for the bus/train ticket.

Also, there are a lot of weird and funny shops, for example “Fantasy World” which is Exeter’s largest stockist of unique costumes; you can dress-up as a medieval or roman person or as a 80’s guy. There are also many barber shops, tattoo and hairdresser salons, nail art salons and jewellery stores, etc. In Exeter you can find whatever you want!

 

 

Most popular cafes in England that aren’t in Italy (or they are so rare) are Costa and Starbucks: Italian students love them too, but, I’m honest, I don’t like their coffee because it’s really different from Italian one. Anyway we like going to these cafes to have a hot drink – maybe with a delicious biscuit – and a chat with friends.

Another local in which I have never eaten before in my homeland is Subway; I sometimes haven’t got my packed lunch so I need something cheap and quick to eat. I have eaten tasty sandwiches a couple of time there for few pounds and I absolutely liked them. Moreover, Subway offers vegan and vegetarian options and it’s good for me since I’m vegetarian.

 

 

One night I discovered The Stable – this is a rooftop bar and lounge club in Guildhall Shopping Centre – and I almost fall in love with this place: good looking, lovely music, nice cocktails, food and drinks, young people and… great beer! I recommend you The Stable if you need a break from the boring week routine and if you love having party with amazing music and beer.

That night I had dinner out with my mates in Bella Italia, an Italian restaurant in Queen Street and we decided to have pizza; honestly, it was a real good pizza! We thought we wouldn’t have eaten this delicious food for a whole month, but we found the right place to satisfy our cravings.

 

 

Have you ever been to RAMM (Royal Albert Memorial Museum)? That is amazing! A fantastic museum and art gallery in Exeter where you can see lots of every-type collections, such as the antiquities with all of its sculptures and archaeological finds or the natural history archives plenty of minerals and (unfortunately for me – I am against animal cruelty) stuffed animals.


 

 

On the last Sunday I had a walk around the city to discover places I have never seen before and I visited the Quay after a relaxing but long walk by the river. This area of Exeter enchanted me, it reminded me vaguely of my dear Venice, and I decided to have a break with a refreshing drink in a lovely bar.

 

 

Obviously in Exeter there are some festivals and community events, such as “Fore Street Flea” on 24th September where you can find stalls, street-food and bargains – the next “Fore Street Flea” will be on 26th November.

 

 

And what about the bowling club and the cinema? There are those too, but I haven’t been there yet: they are my next destination!

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Exeter Cultural Partnership: Mattie’s Speech

Mattie was recently asked to give a talk at the Exeter Cultural Partnership conference in Exeter Cathedral, an event exploring the City’s cultural offering and the issues surrounding it. We thought we’d share with you her speech here, a very honest account of her personal experience of running an indie business for the last 14 years. Enjoy!

Partnerships for Enterprise: My Experience

One of the hardest things about running an independent business is when the customer that comes into your beautifully curated shop complains that you’re not on the High Street (let alone that they’ve had to walk up a hill or encountered a wobbly pavement) as they do to get to the wonderful independent traders of Fore Street.

I always want to say to them that the businesses that aren’t on the High Street are the ones worth stumbling over a pavement for (this isn’t to say that I’m not obsessed with the getting the pavements of Fore Street mended). We’re the businesses that keep corners, old buildings and back streets of cities thriving. We’re the reason that the city centre is bustling. Independent businesses bring something to the city that it has chosen to trade in, that no other city has. We bring jobs for local people, are here for the people of the city 9-5, 6 or 7 days of the week and are often the first to highlight any problems within the community.

For me, this is why Enterprise and Entrepreneurship is so important to Exeter – it’s also very similar to the role Culture plays in the city. The unique mix of business, culture, heritage, sport and education is what makes this city what it is, and keeps it developing and thriving.

I believe that in the Life of a City, every sector has its responsibilities and part to play in bringing all the pieces together. I want to live and work in a thriving, strong, exciting city, and I believe Exeter is well on its way to fulfilling its potential.

It can be hard for business to understand that everything else that goes on in the city centre has an impact on their sales and footfall. When you’re running a business, often alone with few staff, feeling like you have no support and cash flow nightmares, it’s very easy to put your head down and work your hardest on what you’re passionate about. I really believe that we, the independent business community, all need to look up. (We also need lower business rates, better city wide street signage and more support, but that’s a different talk!)

My teenage years where spent in a city that knows how to celebrate its indies, I often use the example of Brighton to show people where my passion comes from, it can be done! When you think of Brighton, do you think of the massive shopping centre, do you even know the name? Or do you think of the Lanes, and probably the Pier! Brighton celebrates its differences and diversity to give it its unique selling point. It’s a great example for Exeter.

My experience of enterprise and culture in Exeter is that we haven’t managed that much collaboration. Whether that’s because of the time constraints from both the business and culture perspectives, or the lack of money to make ideas actually happen. I really hope and believe that through work with Exeter’s BID we can start making ideas come to life, because we have a team with the resources to be able to make things happen, who are business focused but understand that a vibrant cultural life in the city will aid footfall, customer retention and hopefully spend!

I really hoped that the Exeter Trails project would lead to the independent businesses of Exeter having a singular, strong voice with which to communicate with the rest of the city. But the work it takes to keep 100 businesses involved, happy and attentive has proved too much without a dedicated, full-time team.

It can be very frustrating watching all the exciting events in Exeter happen up in Bedford Square, even ones that would be much better suited to being in an indie area of the city. There are, obviously, exceptions, the very wonderful Animated Exeter show on the buildings on Fore Street was woefully attended but was one of the best things I’ve seen in the city. We are lucky enough to have the Bike Shed Theatre at the top of Fore Street, a brilliant example of using a building inventively, and giving Fore Street a much better night time reputation. The amazing reaction to the loss of the West Gate Mural at the bottom of New Bridge Street shows how much the community values its artworks, and we’re trying to work our way towards having a mural in that position again.

My question to you is what is the way forward for collaboration between business and culture? One that gives us all the outcome that we need to carry on performing, creating and developing our businesses, ideas and city.

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Easter Fun

Hi!

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Since the Easter holidays are almost upon us, we’ve rounded up a whole host of activities to keep you entertained over the next few weeks. Perfect for those tiring of buying endless amounts of chocolate, we have workshops, kits, treats and ideas for flexing those creative muscles (and keeping out of mischief!) Jewellery making and crafty kits suitable for little ones as young as 3 are available online and in the shop, and don’t forget you can book in for a private workshop at anytime over the holidays. Get in touch for availability and inspiration!

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Our classic colour mix boxes are the perfect way to keep little (and big!) hands busy, especially when the inevitable rain hits. Filled with enough beads, thread and findings to whip up a few different pieces, these are perfect for crafty types who want to start designing. All hand packed in the shop, every single box is unique – so you get a different selection of loveliness every time! Buy them here.

Egg Bunting

For a super fast bit of easter fun, we’re feeling inspired by lovely paper bunting, easily created by cutting out egg shapes from colourful papers and stringing on to a pretty thread or ribbon. Try adding letters to for your own Easter message and hang up for all to see – lovely!

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Over chocolate egg hunts? Go for something much more wonderful and hide a few of our ceramic bunnies around the place. Once found, they can be threaded onto something lovely (even just a pretty ribbon!) and will provide a much longer lasting treat.

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These are also available exclusively in store with extra special heart adornment – pretty irresistible!

Pom Pom Bunny

Pinterest is a never ending source of Easter fun, but this is one of our favourites – pom pom bunnies! Check out the tutorial here. Really straightforward to make out of a little wool, felt, nylon and beads, these could easily be whipped up in a whole host of colours. For even easier bunny creation, don’t forget we now stock the wonderful Multi Pom in store, for making lots of same size pom-poms at once! Can’t say better than that.

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We’ll be hosting our monthly Creative Kids sessions in the shop on Saturday 19th March, with Jewellery Making between 10.30am and 12pm, and Sewing between 2pm and 3.30pm. Each session is £5, and includes all materials so your little one will head home with their make. In the afternoon we’ll be practising our cross stitching skills with these awesome bunny cut outs, and decoupaging some eggs! Give us a call at the shop on 01392 437377 to book, or just drop in on the day.

 Have fun – and Happy Easter!

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Be Our Valentine

Valentine’s Day

It’s finally getting too near to deny it anymore. This Sunday. It’s happening. We’re not overly keen on the celebrations here at Bunyip, since we’re all working or away entertaining the extended family, so we’ve put together a collection of wonderful things you can make for yourself, or a loved one, or your cat. We’re not here to judge.

Wooden Heart Hanger

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For the minimal effort enthusiasts – we sell these awesome cut out wooden hearts in loads of beautiful bright colours. String one on a pretty piece of thread and hang in the window for instant prettiness.

Button Hearts

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One of our favourite things to make ever, button hearts are easily whipped up out of your button stash. You need some craft wire (we go for 0.6mm silver plated, grab some here) and lots of pretty buttons of a similar size. Lay them out first so you know what you’re doing, and then cut yourself a nice long piece of wire – exactly how long depends on the size of your heart. Start by threading on your button that’s right at the bottom of your heart onto the middle of the wire, and then thread your others on evenly to either side, shaping nicely at the top into an attractive heart shape. Once your buttons are meeting at the top, twist the two ends together, snip off any excess and tie on a nice piece of clear nylon or thin ribbon.

Felt Hearts

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What better way to fill those lonely hours than cutting out loads of felt hearts, popping them all through a sewing machine and making yourself some lush felty garlands? Pro tip: make these in black and grey to curb your romance induced nausea.

Heart Charms – Earrings

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For instant jewellery making gratification there’s always earring making too. We have lots love and heart based things you could pop straight on an earring hook – just use a flat nosed plier to open the loop at the bottom of the earring hook, pop your charm of choice on, and close it! Note: we also have charms with skulls on. Just saying.

Beaded Hearts

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Not enough heart shaped wire fun for you? These beaded hearts are so sweet – a bit more complicated to make, but luckily we’ve whipped them up in lots of lovely colours already so you can just grab them straight from us. You’re our valentine really, lucky thing!

Heart Charms

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Another fun and easy jewellery make is just to pop one of these amazing charms on to a matching chain or sturdy piece of cord – then keep it for yourself. You’re the best.

There you have it, a whole host of things you could do this Sunday that don’t involve going outside or even opening the curtains. Add a large glass of wine and you’re kind of having the best day ever – win!

(P.S – we do have some secret actual Valentine’s cards to buy in the shop too – just don’t tell anyone.)

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New Kit: Pretty Jewellery Set

Introducing our newest jewellery making kit: the Pretty Jewellery Set!

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This necklace & bracelet kit has been designed to fill the gap between our classic Kids Necklace/Bracelet Kits and our other range of making kits. For the age range who love to string beads and are capable of working with a slightly thinner thread and smaller bead size combination, Mattie had her almost 6 year old little girl in mind.

PrettyJewellerySet

The kit is made up from a (obviously!) pretty selection of shiny 6mm plastic beads in either clear, pink or blue, and a beautiful rainbow selection of our crystal butterflies & shapes. These have already been attached to bails so no fiddly plier work, and you’ve got a sturdy cotton thread to string these on. Finished off with a chunky screw clasp to tie on so you can make it to any length you like and enough elastic to whip up a matching bracelet – we’re so pleased with this one!

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Our kits come with full instructions to follow and so make an ideal gift for the budding jewellery making enthusiastic – no extra beads or tools are required, you get absolutely everything you need all packaged up beautifully.

You can grab one of these kits here. The difficult part is choosing which colour to start with…

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Exeter Trails

We can hardly believe Exeter Trails will be 3 years old this year! If you’re still not up to date with exactly what Exeter Trails is, here’s a brief overview.

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Exeter Trails was a project launched in July 2013, and centres around 5 maps which depict over 100 independent businesses from the local area. The project was spearheaded by Bunyip’s Mattie, alongside traders and indie shopping enthusiasts from Cafe@36, The Real Food Store, Penny’s Recipes and No Guts No Glory. The maps cover 5 categories: Creativity, Food Glorious Food, Cafe Culture, Activities & Hobbies and Bygones & Boutiques.

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The purpose of trails is obvious: getting as many people as possible to see the amazing array of shopping that Exeter has to offer if you step off the high street. Colourful cafes and beautiful boutiques are in abundance here – you just need to have the tools to find them. Walking through Exeter City Centre can sometimes feel like walking through any other town centre, but what sets us apart from everyone else are the home grown start ups, the local people selling what they love and the hidden gems down the back streets. The trails team believed (and still do!) that if only customers could find these shops, they’d love them.

The success of trails has been wonderful to see, and in the 3 years since then the maps have been updated and reprinted, and gone through an online revamp to a shiny new website. You can still grab the physical maps, with artwork designed by awesome local artist Philip Harris (check out more of his illustrations here) from all over the City – in the independent shops themselves, as well as in the Tourist Information Centre and Exeter Library.

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You can also download all 5 maps from the website, and browse through all of the independent businesses featured. If you own an indie business locally, make sure that your page is up to date! You can claim your business and in turn edit your page, make it as beautiful as possible and even upload events and news. If you’re not sure how to do this, pop an email over to helloexetertrails@gmail.com. Let’s utilise this wonderful project, and fingers crossed for even more people finding all of Exeter’s fantastic independent offerings in the future.