My Suffolk

Jill Barrett is the owner of Barretts of Woodbridge – a vibrant and independent store specialising in inspiring and beautiful home furnishings. Along with her partner and fellow Director, Michael Grist, they are proudly leading this thriving 50 year old business through the most trying of times for the high street

How did you come to live in Suffolk?

Jill: I was born in Norwich and at the age of two my mum and dad, Ann and Jack, moved the family to Woodbridge to open Barretts of Woodbridge. Michael: I moved here from Belfast back in 1987 to join BT, and have spent the last 10 years at Barretts, with Jill as my boss!

What do you love about Suffolk?

We love the wide open skies, the enchanting seaside towns, the variety of walks available, but most importantly, the lovely people.

You mention walking, where do you most enjoy this?

We’re both very keen walkers, and our local favourites are the walk along the Deben from Woodbridge to Ufford, and the ‘Sailors Path’ from Snape to Aldeburgh (with excellent pubs and restaurants at each end). We also recently discovered a lovely walk to Boulge from Woodbridge during lockdown.

Do you have a favourite Suffolk product?

There’s always some Suffolk chorizo in the fridge!

Where in the county do you like to eat out?

We’re so spoilt for choice in Woodbridge. The list includes The Galley (the Suffolk Black Pig is a must), The Riverside (now A-Listers), The Shapla (best curry anywhere), The East Coast Diner (fabulous pizzas and burgers), and The Table.

If you could choose one picture to sum up Suffolk for you, what would it be?

A beautiful view of the Woodbridge Tide Mill every time.

If you were taking visitors for a day out in the county where would you go?

Aldeburgh would be first on the list, with fish and chips on the beach, and the circular walk to Thorpness.

The past six months has been hard for businesses generally – how has Barretts fared?

It’s been super busy since we re-opened in June, and we’re so grateful to our loyal customers. Carpets, Curtains and Blinds in particular have been busy, with people planning their make-overs during lockdown.

What do you think is special about shopping in Woodbridge? Has COVID-19 changed this at all?

Woodbridge has an eclectic mix of individual shops, restaurants, cafes and pubs, with Barretts right in the heart of the town. Whilst COVID-19 has brought about necessary change, it has given market towns like Woodbridge the edge – we can’t think of anything worse than having to wear a face mask all day in a shopping centre!

What’s the key to surviving on the high street for more than 50 years?

People buy from people they like, and the staff at Barretts are really lovely people! We have our customer’s best interests at heart, and that helps to build lasting loyalty. There’s always a happy, friendly atmosphere in the store, with lots of laughter. We keep it fresh, so whilst people will continue to see quality brands like Sanderson, Hypnos, and Christie, we try to ensure there’s always something new and exciting to see when you visit.