Ben Keenan: St John’s Street, Bury St Edmunds - a street for every occasion

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I’ve worked in The Buttermarket for a long time and over the years have seen literally dozens of businesses set up shop, completely redecorate, entice the public inside with exciting promotions and slashed prices and then disappear overnight when things didn’t go to plan. Running and owning a shop these days is almost impossible and those who attempt to do so deserve a great deal of respect for having the commitment and determination to take up the challenge. Take a stroll through the old part of town and you’ll see there are still a great many deserted shops collecting dust. Some contain information that the business has moved premises and can now be found more often than not in the arc, but on the whole, people have simply abandoned ship and left Bury for pastures new. Last week, I decided that my wife Jen and I deserved a new frying pan and took a trip to one of my favourite shops in the whole world, the Steamer Trading Cookshop, in St John’s Street. After forgetting why I initially went in, as is always the case in such an inspirational and classy store, I left with my purchase and strolled back to work. After a while, something occurred to me which put a smile on my face and, if I’m honest, gave me a sense of smug satisfaction. There are hardly any franchised brands trading in shops in St John’s Street. Thinking about that as I walked made me feel extremely proud that there is a part of our town untouched by big business or corporations whose attempts at making a living have relied on committed staff, people skills and the will to succeed where many others have failed.

From cafés and restaurants to shoe shops and clothes shops and butchers, bakers and jewellery makers, there is something for every occasion and event from top to bottom. So the next time you’re in the area, take a moment to celebrate the small businesses that fill St John’s Street and warmly embrace the sense of community spirit which is quickly becoming a thing of the past.