Published: 12/07/2021Next up in our ‘Introducing’ blog series is Star Plain Stores, a new store that has recently opened in the Georgian market town of Holt, offering a great range of cheese, wine, coffee and provisions.
What’s even better is that where possible all products on offer here are natural, organic and local. We spoke to Tom, owner of Star Plain Stores, about what inspired him to start the business, what kind of products they sell, as well as why he chose to open in Holt.
Please introduce yourself!
I’m Tom, originally from Canterbury, but most recently from London, that’s been home for the best part of the last 15 years. I live in Langham with my partner Nikola who owns Grace & Thorn and our three sighthounds.
What inspired you to open Star Plain Stores?
I’ve always had a passion for cheese so wanted my own business based around cheese, wine and coffee, having worked in the fashion industry and looking to set up my own business. I wanted something that would be my focus having moved to Norfolk and wanting to share my passion.
Where does your love of good food and drink come from?
As a child, my parents wouldn’t allow me to leave the dinner table until all my plate was cleared; this meant I developed an appreciation for all food (eventually). It also meant I became naturally inquisitive about tasting new flavours as I got older, especially having travelled in my early 20’s. My partner Nikola has also always been great at finding new restaurants and places to drink/eat (she’s also a fantastic cook) so its enhanced my appreciation for good food and wine. She’s from an Italian family so took my appreciation for food to a different level over the past nine years.
When did you officially open?
30th May, although that was initially just for coffee, then cheese came a week later and then wine a few weeks after that. New products are constantly arriving so once its settled and I’m happy with the layout and finish, I’ll throw an official launch.
What does the store offer?
The store has three main focuses.
An ever changing Cheese counter that carries a focused range with the view to selling out quick, bringing in something new and keeping it fresh to maximise quality and flavour for customers. Neals Yard Dairy are my British cheese supplier and then European cheese comes via Provisions London.
Great coffee; I chose Climpson & Sons who roast their coffee in old railway arches near London fields, East London. BRAT restaurant has shared their space with Climpsons over the past few years, so I was familiar with them having eaten in the space. I immediately wanted to use them after tasting their coffees and learning more about how they pay their coffee farmers directly and above the industry averages. They’ve been very supportive in getting me set up and getting me trained.
Organic/Biodynamic and natural wines sourced from Italy and France and local Norfolk producer Winbirri.
Aside from the big three, you will find food staples in store alongside some interesting food items. Everything is tried and tested first so please ask questions if you’re not sure; you will always get an honest answer and some advice on how to prepare, use or just enjoy the product! The feedback so far has been really good as customers have enjoyed finding new items available in Holt.
What attracted you to Holt?
Whenever we came to North Norfolk on holidays and weekends away, we always stopped in Holt as we found it an interesting place to visit. After moving to Langham, it felt the most familiar place to set up business and begin to immerse ourselves in the local community. I’m completely overwhelmed by how friendly the community has been in my first few weeks, so I’m keen to ensure I offer something and add value to the community in return.
What do you love most about Norfolk?
I’m not going to lie… The pubs! (and the food producers I’m now lucky to work with). It must have the best density of food pubs out of anywhere I’ve visited. Prior to Star Plain Stores I worked in fashion wholesale so had the opportunity to visit most towns and cities in the UK on client visits. I found Norfolk to be a very welcoming county, rich in a strong local identity, but also very open to the local tourism of London and Midlands visitors. My partner and I also have three dogs so love the walks we find amongst the farmlands, but also mixing it up by visiting the stunning coastline.
You can check out Star Plain Stores on both their Facebook and Instagram pages.