by Paige Selby-Green

Ah, Norfolk… with its bustling, pocket-sized capital, miles of gorgeous coastline, on-trend restaurants and bars and natural beauty at every turn, it’s no wonder more and more people are moving to this beguiling county every year. You could even call it the loveable black hole of the UK – it sure sucked me in, as well as my parents and doubtless somebody you know too.

Right at the pinnacle of what makes Norfolk so special is its diverse range of fabulous local businesses, each working tirelessly to maintain excitement in the face of global brand encroachment. These plucky businesses – and the people behind them – are fundamental to keeping Norfolk unique and exciting, but competing in a market brimming over with global competitors is hard work. As Karl Marx famously warned, globalisation and big business could one day crush the unique little brands that keep local cultures alive. So how do we help local businesses and stop them from being swept away by mass-market chains?

Award-winning blog sensation Muddy Stilettos has the answer. Written by an ex-Associate Editor of National Geographic Traveller magazine, the site is all about discovering and celebrating the best that Norfolk has to offer both visitors and locals alike. Want your hard-earned cash to line smaller pockets than those of the big chains? Just check Muddy Stilettos – it’ll have a great list of local places for you to try out, all of them reviewed in a refreshingly witty tone so that you don’t have to go in worrying about how it’s going to be. It’s a genius solution to the problem of how the consumer can quickly and easily learn about and help their local businesses, and it’s great to see it in a city that’s as jam-packed full of underappreciated treasures as Norwich.

How do we help local businesses and stop them from being swept away by mass-market chains?

The Muddy Awards launched last Wednesday, designed specifically to raise the profile of local businesses even further than the site’s usual review format. They’re coming to Norfolk for the very first time this year, and the first round of voting runs from now until mid June. It’s all about recognising and rewarding the best of the best – and while they’re new in this part of the country, the Muddy Awards are recognised as a stamp of quality for small businesses in many other parts of the UK.


Could The Birdcage win Best Bar in Norfolk at The Muddy Stilettos Awards? Only you can make it happen.

I think many of us here in Norwich and Norfolk appreciate just how diverse our local high streets still are, and want them to stay that way. It’s great to see that attitude channelled into a plan of action – especially one that’s as neatly packaged as Muddy Stilettos. If you care about keeping Norfolk as wonderfully weird as it is today, then take just five minutes of your time and vote for an independent bar you love – or even your friend’s sister’s cousin’s yoga instructor who runs lessons from their lounge. The 2016 Muddy Awards is a way to put your money where your mouth is – without actually spending a penny!

Big businesses are everywhere, and they are a very real threat. The tide can turn – but only if you help, and I think it’s the responsibility of the great Norfolk public to do just that. If you’re a business owner, tell everyone you know to vote for you via the link below. On the flip side, if you’re a punter in love with a particular pub, deli or bakery, then show your support by going onto the same web link and voting for your favourites.

With 30 categories to choose from, there’s plenty of scope to be included whether you’re an owner or a regular. And to coin an ugly – but true – phrase, you’ve got to be in it to win it.

The Muddy Awards run from now until 25 May, with finals week from 7 to 14 June culminating in a drinks evening for the top nominees and winners on 16 June.

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