Meet Alison Smith, owner of Matthias Winter on Hallstile Bank in Hexham selling eco-friendly home products and gifts.
I have always been interested in environmental issues and saw the opportunity to use the shop as a channel to further my own knowledge and to influence others through the products we sell and our actions as a retailer. Our products are all carefully selected for their eco credentials and we actively seek out suppliers who are either have charitable gifting as part of their business model or are local.
Before this I was a teacher but I had always wanted to run and own my own shop so when the opportunity came up I had to go for it. Matthias Winter was actually my Great Grandfather’s name, who owned a grocer’s shop in Yorkshire, so this was my only tenuous link to retail.
What has it been like for your business during Coronavirus?
We have developed a loyal customer base and I have been amazed at how well we have continued to be supported. Our customers really want us to survive this and we have even managed to pick up a lot of new business as people shop closer to home.
We offer a refill service for plant based U.K. made cleaning products and body care products and these have been particularly popular for home delivery during lockdown. We are very excited to be launching an oat milk dispensing machine when we re-open so customers can refill bottles and cut back on tetrapak.
We already had a website before Coronavirus but it was mainly gift based so we had to expand that offer and make sure there was everything on there that people needed.
I have been hand delivering products to people’s doorsteps in the local area and have also teamed up with Active Travel Tynedale to pilot a local delivery service using eBikes.
"Our products are all carefully selected for their eco credentials and we actively seek out suppliers who either have charitable gifting as part of their business model or are local."
Why should people Shop Local?
The Coronavirus pandemic has seen a real shift in how people shop and I think people have been really surprised at how much there is available on their doorstep.
I would say to everyone take some time to walk around where you live and see what is there. Here in Hexham we have a fantastic mix of independent retailers so there really isn’t any need to go anywhere else to shop.
Matthias Winter is also a drop off point Terracyle collecting crisps packets, biscuit wrappers and Pringles tubes. We are given £1 to donate to a charity of our choice for every kilo of waste we send to Terracycle. In the summer months the shop is also a drop off point for fresh food for the local West Northumberland Food Bank.
It was named Regional finalist at the 2020 Great British Entrepreneur Awards in the Change for Good category.