"Fresh, clean & inviting with a non-blokey atmosphere"

HOPSTERS, ST NICHOLAS STREET
TIMING: WEEKEND LUNCHTIME

Hopsters is a craft ale and specialist spirits retailer that opened its doors on The Saints in late 2017. Selling local, national and imported beer, the venue seems to be gaining a cult following.  To see what the fuss was about, we sent our mystery shopper –Andy – along to the quaint shop.

LOCATION

Spot on!  The Saints area (St Peter’s Street, St Nicholas Street & Silent Street) is the ideal location for a retailer of this nature.  Hopsters joins a large number of bespoke, independent venues that give these streets a certain feeling, that is hard to find in a town centre.  SCORE 5/5

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

The building is a period property, that sits well alongside its neighbours.  The frontage is small, but in keeping with the surroundings.  You get the impression that the venue is very bespoke and unique and I guess that’s what management is hoping for.   SCORE 4.5/5

GREETING

I had to engage an initial greeting, although the gentleman concerned was partly with other customers.  It wasn’t the warmest of starts and didn’t fit with what I was expecting from the visit, so far as the start had eluded to.  SCORE 2/5

THE PERUSE

The shop is reasonably well stocked with varied bottles and cans.  There is a fridge and side shelving, plus a window display.  The window is definitely dressed ‘one-way’ and doesn’t make enough of the space available that customers inside the shop can see.  It could be that an order was on its way, but the shop looked a little sparse.  However, the stock definitely has a unique feel about it and it’s absolutely unlike visiting a supermarket’s beer section.  3.5/5

SERVICE

After the slightly wobbly start, I was given excellent customer service from both ‘Ed’ and ‘Stevo’.  These guys are passionate about their shop and stock, telling me their background (Greene King) and enthusing about various beers.  We discussed gift boxes and I was told that the ethos was to engage guys and girls and ensure a non-blokey atmosphere.  This certainly comes across.  SCORE 4/5

INDEPENDENCE

The Saints is an artisan shopping area of Ipswich, sometimes bizarrely overlooked by residents and Hopsters fits right into this artisan feel.  You immediately get the feeling of an independent retailer in this shop and Ed and Stevo add to this appeal.  If I wanted a generic bitter or stout I might go to the supermarket.  However, if I want independent advice and bespoke ales, I will shop at Hopsters.  SCORE 5/5

STANDARDS

The shop is fresh, clean & inviting.  There are exposed beams and a well thought out standard of décor.  The staff are well-presented and the overall feel is welcoming and casual.  SCORE 4.5/5

Hopsters joins a retail area that deserves to thrive. The choice of location for a bespoke ale shop is spot-on and feels right. Ipswich lacks outlets of a similar nature and if the venue continues to adhere to its owners’ philosophy, then artisan beer, ale, stout etc will fly out of the door. Supermarkets have bullied their way into selling cut-price alcohol and driving independent retailers out of business. Hopsters should buck this trend and rightly so.
— Overall rating 4.1/5