The Story of Sunrise
30 or so years ago, Sunrise began when my husband set up a stall selling Moroccan lanterns, rugs and ceramics on Bury St Edmunds market. Some of his early purchase documents remain in the Sunrise archives, hand-written order sheets for conservative quantities of stock at long-forgotten prices. Today, Sunrise continues to trade with many of these original suppliers and is proud to have journeyed so far with these extraordinary colleagues, as well as meeting new, like-minded importers, designers & entrepreneurs along the way.
Over the past year, during the global coronavirus pandemic, there has been plenty of time to reflect on these relationships, to deepen the connection with our supply chains and to take stock of the global nature of our business and its impact on communities across the world. From more personal chats during business calls with the lovely people at the Plazma Lab in Tel Aviv, to welfare reports from India, Thailand, Peru and Guatemala via our friends at Siesta, Gringo, Shared Earth and Emma’s Emporium. Feedback comes from the Nepalese villages where our Lily & Me is manufactured, and our personal commitment to buying from small independent suppliers of silver jewellery and fair trade goods has never been stronger.
Over the years Sunrise has changed a lot, ebbing and flowing with the tides of fashion, culture and trading patterns. When I joined the company about 18 years ago, Sunrise was doing a roaring trade in gothic clothing, clubwear (remember the fluffy boot covers?), Stargazer hair dye (we still stock it), New Rock and Buffalo boots, day-glo, neon, UV and all the paraphernalia associated with the dance scene at the time. Our transactional website was also operational back then and, because we were “ahead of the game”, it was surprisingly successful despite our amateur in-house photography and a lack of any communication interface between our stock system and the website (seems like the dark ages but loads of fun!). We were one of the original stockists of Bench Clothing, which was such a new and iconic style at the time. We sold lots of it worldwide before Bench even had its own website! Other big brands during that era for us were Billabong, Mambo, Hooch to name just a few.
When the brand bubble began to burst for us, it was time for Sunrise to evolve again. We downsized from three stores and a warehouse to the single, original store in Bury St Edmunds where we continue to thrive as part of this fabulous community of independent stops and services. By the way, the BEST Scotch eggs can be purchased fresh, hot and crispy from Edis of Ely butchers opposite us in St Johns Street!
Today our “brand” offering is much reduced but we have always taken great care to honour our trading relationships and to remain loyal to suppliers along the way. We are proud to stock Carhartt American workwear, ideal for the local population of tree surgeons, labourers and anyone wanting durable, well-made men’s clothing for both work and leisure. Skate brands, Element and DC provide great quality graphic t-shirts, trainers and accessories, and our menswear collection is completed with the addition of Joe Browns and the edgy artwork on tees and hoodies coming out of the Plazma Lab in Israel.
Hippy trousers, cosy hoodies, tie dye t-shirts, festival dresses and boho tops are catered for on both our men’s and women’s floors with Gringo, Siesta and Emma’s Emporium. The sourcing and manufacturing provenance of these companies is via fair trade and ethical practices, and we feel closer to these importers and their overseas suppliers than ever before as we know first hand how the benefits of this trade feeds families and communities at a grass roots level.
Even our “branded” womenswear has great provenance. Nomads and Lily & Me both have high ethical and fair trade standards, make use of organic fabrics and pay deep attention to the families and factories where the garments are designed and made, here in the UK as well as India and Nepal. We have enjoyed strong relationships with Lily & Me and Nomads for more years than we care to count!
And then of course there are our gifts and homewares! “It’s like an Aladdin’s Cave” is something we hear almost daily, alongside other fabulous customer comments about how “different” we are, how much there is to see, and how difficult it can be to leave! We stock the fantastic Alchemy gothic pewter jewellery; great value silver, semi-precious stone pendants, chains, bracelets and earrings sourced by old friends at Poco Loco; rocks, minerals and tumblestones; tarot and oracle card decks; wall hangings and bedpreads; salt lamps; photo frames; rainbow crockery and Polish pottery; dragons and fairies; greetings cards and so, so much more! Our incense offering of joss sticks, cones and resins is second to none, with an extensive choice of varieties from Satya, Tribal Soul, Auroshika, Goloka, Organic Goodness and more. My passion for incense has even spilled over into workshops where the delights of raw resins can be explored and personal incense blends concocted! You can read more about Incense and how to burn.
And so here we are today, a thriving independent business with a small team of incredible staff (aka “family”) who share our passion for doing things a little differently, each bringing their own unique energy and interests to our happy little shop! If you’re visiting East Anglia please come see for yourself – there’s always a vibrant and welcoming groove going on at Sunrise – and we smell great too!
Bury St Edmunds is a pretty little market town, slap bang in the middle of East Anglia. It's great for shopping and days out with narrow streets formed by the historic grid. The Abbey ruins, the Buttermarket and Corn Exchange are all remnants of Bury St Edmunds' former glory as a centre for trade in East Anglia.
An independent shop in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk
83 St John's Street
Bury St Edmunds