People are visiting Hastings these days to take a look at its award-winning pier. It’s pretty good. But not as impressive as the wine shop just around the corner.
We say “wine shop”, but Borough Wines, Beers & Books is much more than that, as its name suggests. Not many merchants host gigs in their basement featuring a bloke playing free jazz on a sax while hitting himself on the head with a tray, or welcome Faust and their angle grinder for a midweek performance.
Jess Scarratt and Michael Smith embody a truth that is becoming more self-evident in the UK trade: there’s no such thing as a “typical” independent, and attempts to analyse the sector through generalisations and averaging-out will only ever take you so far.
For some merchants, wine has to be the focus, at the expense of all other distractions. For others, it’s simply part of the mix, but that doesn’t have to mean that such retailers lose their specialism. You’re allowed to specialise in more than one category.
Borough Wines, Beers & Books is very definitely a wine specialist, as a glance at its range will attest. But its owners are interested in other things too. And so, it would seem, are its customers.