The popular business owned by Titchfield Vineyard started as a small wine merchant some 20 years ago before expanding both its premises and its offering, adding a delicatessen and licensed café.
Manager Marilyn Elphick believes the Live Love Local campaign is crucial to support both small local businesses and, in turn, those supported by them.
‘Lots of people turned to online shopping during lockdown,’ she said.
‘It’s convenient and I do understand that, but when people come to us, it’s all about the experience.
‘You can browse our shelves, you can stop, have a cup of coffee or a glass of wine, and make an outing of it.
‘You will discover how well we know our stock. We know it inside out – so when you come in, you’re going to get people to tell you all about the British cheeses, the local wines, the locally produced gins, chutneys and jams. We know who labels the gins, we know the delivery people.
We know the back stories of all these things and that makes such a difference.
‘Yes, you might pay a little more than you would online, but you are paying for that unique experience. You are not only supporting us; we employ local people, and support local producers, so you’re helping lots of other people when you come into our shop.’
Famous for their bespoke and ready-made hampers and their impressive British cheese towers, The Cork & Cheese has expanded its business to supply more outside catering since the pandemic.
‘We’re probably best known for our bespoke and ready-made hampers – particularly at Christmas when we do hundreds and hundreds of them,’ said Marilyn.
‘But what’s really taken off at the moment are the experiences – private baby showers, hen nights, and regular gin and wine tasting evenings.
‘During lockdown we packed up hundreds of afternoon teas, which were either collected or delivered, and now we’re also starting to see lots of enquiries for buffets, weddings, business meetings and birthday parties.
‘The trade has changed quite considerably over the last 18 months, since those days when we had to find ways to keep the business going and stay connected with our local community.’
Marilyn is looking forward to a busy Christmas and hopes to welcome more people than ever to The Cork and Cheese.
‘Once people come in, they can’t believe how lovely it is in here. At Christmas it looks so lovely; it’s like a little Aladdin’s cave. We love gift wrapping, and people really enjoy choosing items for
Christmas hampers; we can make it all up so it’s absolutely personal to them.
“They’re not just buying something off the shelf – although our ready-made hampers are just perfect for those frantic last-minute Christmas Eve presents!’
For more information visit thecorkandcheese.co.uk/
Live Love Local, a campaign to get shops and businesses across Fareham’s towns and villages buzzing in the run-up to Christmas.
The campaign is designed to help the area’s diverse range of unique, independent shops and food and drink businesses bounce back after the challenges of the pandemic and rally against competition from online and out of town shopping.
It is supported by Fareham Borough Council through the European Regional Development Fund.
For information on traders, gift guides, events and latest news see livelovelocalfareham.co.uk