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Handmade gifts and art shop celebrates first year in Diss

Helen Dutton cuts a cake to celebrate her shop's first birthday. Picture by Mark Bullimore Photography.
Helen Dutton cuts a cake to celebrate her shop's first birthday. Picture by Mark Bullimore Photography.

A Diss shopkeeper is celebrating her first year of business in the town.

Helen Dutton, who runs Our Slice of Country Life on St Nicholas Street, celebrated her shop’s first anniversary on September 1.

Mrs Dutton originally founded Our Slice of Country Life - which specialises in handmade gifts and art - online, in 2012

But after building up the business nationwide, she moved into premises in the newly revamped Heritage Triangle in September, last year.

“The online business just grew and grew to the point where I was selling all over the UK, and sometimes abroad,” said Mrs Dutton.

“I decided I needed a shop because I was in contact with some amazing crafts people and the space would allow me to stock their products, too.”

Mrs Dutton would like to see more support for Diss town centre shops, as towns all over the country battle to keep their highstreets bustling.

Customers, family and friends helped celebrate the shop's birthday with cake from Lavender Lace Cakes, of Banham.

“I have to say that if it had been down to customers at the shop alone, I would have had to have closed by Christmas last year,” she said.

“About half of my trade is online, but if everyone would just spend even £5 a month at their local shops, it would bring thousands into the town and make such a difference.

“It saddens me that when local events are on, there are thousands of local people around, but when it comes to shopping, where are they?"

Mrs Dutton, a former administrator for a car firm, first began selling handmade items, such as cushions and fairy doors, on Facebook, before expanding her range.

“My landlord at the new shop was great and let me have a trial period to start with, which helped get started," said Mrs Dutton.

"I am determined to keep it going long-term. I have some great loyal customers but a lot of people still don’t venture up to the triangle.

“It would be great if everyone shopped local to keep the town's independents alive."

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