Hundreds of nominations were received for Gloucester businesses in the search for the UK’s favourite local business, including a gift shop, a book shop, a bakery and a café

Gloucester residents have shown their love for local in a national competition to find the UK’s favourite local businesses, sponsored by local gift card giants Town & City Gift Cards.

Local Gloucester businesses nominated in the competition include The Candle Tree, Baked, Miju Wool, The Comfy Pew and Waterstones. The Candle Tree was one of the most popular nominees and a finalist in the competition.

Owner of The Candle Tree, Sandra Powell, set up the shop after a health condition caused her to re-evaluate her life:

“I used to work in the financial industry until I started suffering with carpal tunnel syndrome. My health was going downhill and I knew I had to do something where I could have more control over my working life.

“I’d always liked candles, soaps, essential oils and everything to do with making home feel welcoming and look beautiful. Setting up The Candle Tree was a celebration of everything that I loved but when I opened the shop, I only imagined it would be a short term project. 8 years on and I’m still here and that is because of the amazing people I’ve met on this journey.

“When I opened The Candle Tree I had no knowledge of retail at all but from the first day, customers were so supportive and I couldn’t be more grateful. Without them, I have no shop. It is a joy to be in this environment, and there is always something going on. I started attending trade fairs and made it a priority to discover new products that are a bit different.

“Lots of people dream of opening their own business but if you have a good job already, it can be hard to make that jump. For me, I was at the point where I had to do something different. The one thing I’ve learnt is to take things one step at a time, you can’t always know what tomorrow will bring.

“As a business owner and in life I think you have to find the pockets of joy that make you happy, enjoy your work life and also take time away from it.  After a great December, I’m closed on Mondays and Tuesdays and using the time to plan and reflect.

“It is amazing that people took the time to vote for The Candle Tree and other Gloucester businesses in the competition and shows the love for local that we have in the city.”

The Candle Tree is one of over 80 city businesses who are part of the Gloucester Gift Card, launched by Gloucester Business Improvement District (BID) in 2019 as a way to encourage local shopping and keep spend locked into the area.

Sandra adds: “I’m part of the Gloucester Gift Card because I think it’s a really good gift. You can gift it to a student who’s living in the city, to a friend for a birthday, or as a Mother’s Day gift, and they can use the card to enjoy the city.”

Waterstones in Gloucester was another popular nominee in the competition. Store manager Becky Kelly said they work hard to make the store a part of the community:

“It is absolutely lovely that people have nominated us. Customers come into the store for anything from an obscure book to the latest bestseller, and we give them all our care and attention. I think customers really appreciate when someone loves doing their job. The shop is a welcoming and safe place with things like our board games and creative writing events.

“Waterstones is a chain, but it’s also a local Gloucester store and it’s important that we are a part of our community, joining in with initiatives like the Gloucester Gift Card which give people a reason to visit the city.”

Claire Knight, Marketing & Business Engagement Lead at Gloucester BID said: “We know that Gloucester has some of the best loved local businesses around, and to see the support for our shops, cafés and more in the UK’s Favourite Local Business competition is just fantastic. Our local businesses really do make Gloucester what it is and we’re proud to see them receive the recognition they deserve.”

Gloucester’s Gift Card is part of the Town & City Gift Card initiative active across the UK and Ireland. Finalists in the UK’s Favourite Local Business competition from the rest of the UK include women’s clothing store Chester Boutique, Colchester gift emporium Bill & Bert’s, and Bristol sustainable lifestyle store Prior. The overall winner was DIY, home and garden retailer Hurst, which has 6 branches in the Isle of Wight.

Colin Munro, managing director of Miconex said: “The UK’s Favourite Local Business competition was designed to shine a light on local. Reading the nominations for Gloucester businesses, and customers praised the service on offer, the amazing food and hospitality, and the people who go above and beyond to help their community. To think that all of these businesses are accessible through the Gloucester Gift Card shows what a wonderful experience awaits those lucky enough to receive one.”

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