WITH more businesses set to reopen next month, The Gazette has asked our readers to share their favourite small and independent firms around the town to give them a much-needed boost after a challenging year for most sectors.

From gyms to bakeries to pubs and restaurants, more than 200 people got in touch to tell us why they love their local businesses and what sets them apart from the competition.

According to SmallBusiness.co.uk, supporting local has wide-ranging benefits for towns including increased employment and instilling a sense of community.

Local shops and high street businesses are the backbone of our economy.

Research shows that £10 spent with a local independent shop means up to an additional £50 returning to the local economy.

This is because the local shop owners, who you are spending your money with, will then put that money back into your local community by going into local pubs and restaurants etc, thus circulating the money and allowing your community to thrive.

If you shop local more, you will also help increase local jobs. Studies have found that local shops and services employ the most number of people in our country, even more than the jobs offered by multi-national, multi-chain businesses.

The minimum wage at local shops is also higher than many big chains, thus improving the financial support of our neighbourhood homes.

However, retail and service sectors across the UK have found themselves in a very difficult position since the start of the pandemic.

While the big businesses had the backing of reserves and sustainability, many local businesses have suffered severely in the past year.

Many shops were forced to close, while some of them never reopened when the country lifted the lockdown regulations last year.

So, when we slowly reopen again this month after months of strict regulations, many local shops will be looking to regain some normality.

We know that you love your local shops. The number of engagements and mentions in our shout out proves that you want your local shops to survive this difficult period and thrive.

Among the businesses mentioned were hundreds of home businesses that survive because of your support.

These two pages are a celebration of our local businesses. Let’s join together to pull these small firms out of a challenging year.

The amazing cake makers of Basingstoke you ‘knead’ to know

WHEN the Gazette asked for for your favourite local businesses, many suggestions came for the cake makers.

Basingstoke has hundreds of cake makers who reach your hearts through your taste buds.

And some of them do more than just bake cakes.

Recommending Tasty Sweet Bakes, Louise Thake said: “Tasty Sweet Bakes gives 10 per cent of all profit to charity and offers free delivery within the Basingstoke area.”

While Lauren Jessica Hutchins said Caked In It “ is the scrummiest treats known to mankind! She’s a new business and is absolutely killing it!”

Megan Andrews said Clares Cakes is the “best cakes and treats in Basingstoke.”

Laura Hamblin recommended Amelia’s Sweets n Treats and said : “Nothing is too much trouble and a great selection of sweets.”

Among the other cake makers mentioned were Indigo Bakes, B&D Bakes, CupCakes By Kelly, Avalanche Sweets, Slice of Fun Cakes Basingstoke, The Proper Cheesecake Company, Pastries by Anna, Mama Gal Cakes, Harriet’s Sweet Treats 2021, Laura-Lou’s Bakes and For Heaven’s Cake.

Is your favourite cake maker in this list? If not, you can recommend their names on our Facebook page or reach us at newsdesk@basingstokegazette.co.uk.

Basingstoke’s best crafts, candles and cakes are here

BASINGSTOKE is a town which has much creative talent.

The town has hundreds craft makers who are specialised in a range of products, from jewellery to candles.

Recommending Pots 2 Paint, Susan M Beard said: “Run by a wonderful lady who shares her vast knowledge of ceramic painting with her customers helping them to achieve the best results they can whether they are beginners or more experienced.”

Among the other craft businesses recommended by our were readers were No.84 Accessories & Gifts, Sweet Traditions Gifts, Bonkers Balloons, Chalk and Cheese Candles and Wax Melts, Deanne’s Beauty Box, HuggsnPuffs Balloons-Crafts JulienCarla, Sian Storey Art, Magnificent Melts, Paintacular Faces, Leanne’s Bow-tique, Clare Sharp Art, Tasha’s Scents UK, My Tiny Gallery, Resin by Cleo, Sticky Little Pickle, Mum of Sons, Tropic With Alex, THAT Gallery, Alison’s Wonderland, B’s Kneads, Rainbows and Rage, PJN Art, Jilby’s, Nanashi Attire, Dodging Pigeons, Jammy Thing, Sew Tiki, The Purity Company, More of the Good Stuff, Joy’s Magpie, Platform Fifty and Jammy Thing.

If you think there are other businesses in the town which deserve a mention, email us at newsdesk@basingstokegazette.co.uk or visit our Facebook page to give them a shout out on social media.

Places that tickle your taste buds

IT HAS been more than a year since the Covid-19 pandemic hit and impacted all our lives.

Since then, multiple lockdowns have put strict restrictions on what we can do, leaving little room for normality.

Many people are looking forward to restrictions easing further to allow get togethers with family and friends, and to go out for a meal or drink.

Although not as big as the multi-chain food businesses, Basingstoke has a number of local restaurants that offer a great ambience and enchant our taste buds.

Some of them have been here for many decades, while some relatively new. Some born out of shoestring budgets, while some are born out of a hobby.

Nevertheless, the Residents of Basingstoke are spoilt for choices when it comes to selecting a food place to visit each day.

So when we asked our readers to mention a favourite local business, it was no surprise when we received many food places as suggestions.

Restaurants and pubs being one of the most important parts of our lives, a lot Many of our readers tagged the popular local restaurants and waterholes in Basingstoke.

There were a number of suggestions for eating places at the top of our readers’ list when looking for a good time.

Whether it was the atmosphere, staff, food or the quality of the pint all of these places are loved by their customers.

Among the food businesses mentioned were Snezana Catering Greek Street, in Chineham, The Parlour Tearoom in Viables, Charlies’ Café in Roentgen Court, Yamzaki Sushi Bar in Feathers Lane, and Willows Coffee House in Church Street.

Some of these places mentioned exclusively use local products for their business. When opening in August of last year, Willows’ owner Mary Stevens was keen to use suppliers local to Basingstoke.

Mary said: “ Willows is totally independent and for me I wanted to find as many locally produced Basingstoke and Hampshire products and suppliers as I could.”

The coffee house is open for takeaway.

Also among those mentioned was Andwell Brewing Company, a micro-brewery situated along the riverside in the hamlet of Andwell.

Most of these places are closed currently due to lockdown restrictions. But some are set to re-open on April 12 for outdoor dining only, while the rest will hopefully re-open in May when restrictions ease further as part of the government’s roadmap out of lockdown.

The Parlour Tearoom posted on Facebook: “We absolutely cannot wait to see you all again! We will be back very soon!”

There are likely to be more amazing food places in Basingstoke not mentioned in this list. If your favourite local eatery hasn’t been included share their name on the Gazette Facebook page or email us at newsdesk@basingstokegazette.co.uk.

Smashing services and shops that are always at your doorsteps

WHEN considering local businesses, we often tend to miss the amazing people who offer different services from their homes or to your doorstep.

This includes fitness instructors, property dealers, technicians and beauty therapist.

Among the recommendations we received un this category were Helping Hands Home Care (Basingstoke), Sherborne Village Store, Rosser Brickwork, NH Electrical ltd, JD Carpentry, Steven Walsh Plumber/Handyman, Precious Lashes By K, April’s Nails, Lauren Jessica Hutchins, M&C Building Solutions, Revive Property services, Groomtastic Dog Spa Basingstoke, 66S Home Improvements, GroomTastic, Jo Marshall at Sparkling Ginger, Extremely Lovely Weddings, Think Forensics, Shimmer Hut, Love Lou Lou Floral Design, Global Kitchen Catering and Events, Relax kids, The Beauty Spot, Greenways Newsagents, John Burton’s Butchers, Carey’s Hairdressers, Mobile Hairdressing by Ursula Wood, Aingels Catering, The Property Explorer Estate Agents Basingstoke, The Sleepy Teepee Party, Messy Monkey Makers, Your Fabulash, Inner Bliss Massage and Beauty School, Mannicitas, BB Paw Wax, Pooch n Mix, Hooley Landscapes, The Little Barn Health & Gift Shop, Flawless Basingstoke – Elaine, Pegasi Print, Surya’s International Food, Bob-i-Tea Boo, The Home of Hearts, Aingels, Danika Vaughan Fitness and Fitness4All.

Basingstoke gears up for shops to reopen on April 12 

Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council is working with Basingstoke Together, Festival Place, The Malls and partners in Whitchurch and Overton to welcome shoppers and visitors back next month.

As part of the government’s roadmap to unlock national Covid restrictions, non-essential retail, personal care businesses and outdoor hospitality venues, including pubs and restaurants, are expected to reopen from Monday, April 12.

A spokesperson for the authority said: “Our local businesses are hard at work to make sure it will be a welcoming and pleasant experience and a number of measures will be in place such as one way systems, increased cleaning, hand sanitising stations and lots of signage as a reminder of what to do to keep your family and other people safe.

“When returning to the town centre, you will also notice friendly new town centre ambassadors who will be on hand for useful information and to remind shoppers to wear face coverings and follow social distancing measures.

“And there are plenty of ways to get to the town centre to enjoy a variety of shops, services and hospitality.

“As the warmer weather starts to arrive, walking and cycling provide a great alternative to the car to come and visit your favourite shops and businesses.”