An independent gift shop chain in East Sussex has been crowned the UK’s best small high street business at this year’s Small Awards, which saw hundreds of the UK’s most exciting small businesses brought together for a glittering ceremony in London.
‘Maybugs’ which is a family owned, independent gift and homeware retailer based in Sussex selling a range of unique gifts – won the ‘High Street Hero’ award, sponsored by TSB, with the owners being presented with their award by presenter, writer, actor, and comedian Sue Perkins.
Established five years ago, Maybugs is an example of a small retailer breathing new life into the British high street. Founded in 2018, owners John Dale and Greg Rose have grown the business with two further stores opened in Eastbourne in 2021 and Bexhill-On-Sea in 2022. With the mantra of selling ‘beautiful things for fabulous People’, Maybugs impressed the judges with its focus on supporting the local community and collaborating with other small businesses.
The Small Awards is a nationwide search for the smallest and greatest firms in the UK, across all sectors, which has been running for seven years. It is organised annually by Small Business Britain, which champions, inspires and accelerates the nation’s 5.5 million small firms.
“We are so delighted with this award! We strongly feel that small businesses can only be successful if the town or high street around you are successful too, so it is wonderful to be recognised for playing a part in this in the communities that we serve,” said co-founder, Greg Rose. “There are some exciting things in the pipeline for Maybugs, not least with the launch of our new Artisan Market in the summer, and having this special award behind us is a fantastic extra boost as we move forward.”
Michelle Ovens CBE, founder of Small Business Britain and the Small Awards, congratulated the winners, saying: “Maybugs’ win is very well deserved. Their passion for helping the high street to thrive, by supporting other local firms, is a great example of the power of small businesses to bring communities together and be a shining light in our town and city centres.”
This year, the Small Awards received a record number of applications from small businesses, with over 80 finalists shortlisted across 11 Small Award categories that call out the nation’s most inspirational business, across everything from sole-traders to digital stars and purposeful community-driven businesses. Other finalists across retail categories included:
• W J French and Son – a family-run shoe shop in Southampton established in 1803
• Northern Card Gaming – a Northern Ireland-based hobby and games store that regularly runs events for its local community
• Drake the Bookshop – an independent and family-run book shop in Stockton-on-Tees, in County Durham.
• TOAST – a collection of independent coffee houses in Suffolk which champion sustainability
• Wave of Nostalgia – a small bookshop in Keighley in West Yorkshire focused on inclusivity and female independence
• People First Mobility – a Skegness-based business providing locals and holiday-goers with mobility equipment
• The East Street Deli – a husband – and – wife run independent deli in Wimbourne, Dorset
Adeel Hyder, Business Banking Director at TSB said: “Congratulations to Maybugs, our fabulous high street hero. In a competitive award category, their ethos, sponsorships and campaigns to support the local community and businesses really stood out. It’s a great example of a business giving back to the community.
“We are proud to be celebrating British small businesses, reminding people of the incredible value local high streets provide in driving business and community”.
The Small Awards are judged by a panel of leading enterprise experts. Guests at the event were treated to a dazzling display of entertainment by Europe’s largest gay male choir, the London Gay Men’s Chorus, along with fine food and drink by independent caterers.