WHEN Bill & Berts opened in 2019 the people of Colchester "fell in love" with the quirky gift shop. 

The Gazette spoke to Bill & Berts, in Sir Isaac's Walk, as part of our new campaign to support the many fantastic, independent and family-owned businesses in the city.

The store has been selling high-quality gifts and an assortment of unique and lovable items to the residents of Colchester since 2019. 

Turtle - Bill in the shop with a decorative turtleTurtle - Bill in the shop with a decorative turtle (Image: Newsquest)

Bill Nettlefield and Sarah Charlton have owned the business for five years and are always looking for new items to add. 

Bill said: "We opened just the first side of the shop in August 2019 and had a wonderful Christmas period.

"Then we hit Covid and I wasn't expecting a 15-week lockdown. We opened in June shut down again in November then shut down from December to April. 

"Everyone fell in love with the shop from the day we opened. We were fortunate enough to have a good Christmas to not have too many problems."

The shop also had a huge expansion in 2022, where they knocked a hole through to the building next to them. 

amazing - Sarah with some water bottlesamazing - Sarah with some water bottles (Image: Newsquest)

Candles, Jellycats, decorations, jewellery, plushies, water bottles, diaries and many more items are up for grabs in the store.

Bill was inspired to open up the gift shop, named after himself and his dog Bert, after running another business.

He said: "Having set up Calendar Club, the chain of temporary shops that pop up at Christmas, it was time to do something else. 

"Colchester became the obvious place to be as I lived a few miles away and it is one of the better towns or cities in the country.

"The effect of shops closing hasn't been seen anywhere near as much in Colchester as it has elsewhere.

"Yes, we have lost the big boys but the city is always about the diverse independents. 

"If I had gone shopping for anything I'd go to Colchester before Braintree or Chelmsford."