Pretty town with lots of independent shops

John Souter and Gilly Jackson

John Souter, a founding member of The Old Riverport initiative and organiser of the Jazz and Blues Festival and Gilly Jackson, chairman of Festival Events St Ives and editor of St Ives Now magazine. - Credit: HUNTS POST

St Ives is a pretty market town steeped in history and filled with independent shops, hairdressers, cafes, restaurants and many thriving businesses.  

Much of the town sits alongside the picturesque River Great Ouse and the area attracts much tourism for those who want to stroll along the waterfront and stop for refreshment. 

John Souter works on The Riverporter, a small newspaper for the people of St Ives and he is also the organiser of the town's annual Jazz and Blues Festival. He also works closely with St Ives Town Council to do what he can to promote the town. 

The jazz festival will take place at The Quay, from September 16-19.

John said: “I get involved with a lot of different things that take place in the town, but one of the main things that we have done for the last five years is the old Jazz and Blue’s festival.  

“It started in 2015 and it goes on for four days. It started relatively small, we only had about 16 or 17 acts over the four days. It has grown every year a little bit, the basic concept is that virtually every premises in the town centre invites a band to play and we organise who plays where.  

“The businesses pay for the bands and we do all the marketing end of it. For instance, this year there will be 23 free concerts over the four days” 

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Gilly Jackson is chairman of Festival Events St Ives and editor of the St Ives Now magazine, and she is also very involved in promoting the town and making sure there is plenty going on and things for people to do.

“We organise up to 20 events each year normally, but, of course, we haven't been able to do so in the lockdown period, so we are hoping to start again, maybe with some events in July and music on The Waits.  

“Also then again at Christmas, we will do something along the lines of an arts festival and have a children's a grotto and Santa coming into town.  

“I also work with the town team and I help and organise the illuminated boat parade which takes place at Christmas." 

Denise Lindsay, the owner of Ginstrumental, in St Ives, stayed open during the lockdown.

Denise Lindsay, the owner of Ginstrumental, in St Ives, stayed open during the lockdown. - Credit: HUNTS POST

There are many independent shops in the town centre, and although some have been closed during the lockdown, others were allowed to stay open.

Denise Lindsay, the joint owner of the newly-opened Ginstumental, in St Ives, said the business had experienced a "great run" since opening last December.  

Denise said: “We have been open since December 7, as we are considered as an off-licence, so we were allowed to stay open during lockdown.

“We have been really busy and worked hard in that run-up to Christmas. I think it helped because we were brand new and we had all the gifts ready for Christmas,  

“Our feet literally didn’t touch the ground, we had to refill the shop three times and that was brilliant.” 

Martin Cooper, owner of Ikigai-Refill shop, in St Ives, sells vegan-friendly products.

Martin Cooper, owner of Ikigai-Refill shop, in St Ives, sells vegan-friendly products. - Credit: HUNTS POST

Martin Cooper, owner of The Refill Shop of Ikigai, has been open for three months and he says he has received a positive response from customers.

Martin said: “Since I was a new business in St Ives, I really didn’t know what to expect. I remained open during the pandemic lockdown as I was classed as an essential shop.  

“But from the amount of customers we have had since opening to now has been fantastic. 

“There has been more customers than I expected, it has been a bit quieter since lockdown lifted two weeks ago, but I think that might be because people are dashing out to more places at the moment.  

“I would like to see in a few months, what normal is for me in terms of sales. We have had a lot of positive response from customers with lots of people saying the shop smells lovely and they are pleased that we have all vegan-friendly products and food."