In a peak-global economy, the future is localism, and is best represented by Cookies, a quintessentially British bakery in the centre of Oundle.
Cookies opened in Raunds in 1995, and was bought in 2016 by its new owners Mike Doyle and Ian Smith, who had been head baker. The Raunds shop is the bakery’s base, and also includes a café.
Their products are baked daily in Raunds and brought fresh to the Oundle shop. Cookies maintains the idea of a traditional, English bakery, serving fresh bread and pastries throughout the day for a regular clientele, serving British favourites.
The bakery assistants at Cookies have worked at the shop so long they couldn’t remember how long, other than to say, “years”. Bakery life means an early morning start.
“We get up at 5am every morning because obviously we have to travel and then set up the shop,” Sara said.
Fresh bread arrives first thing in the morning, with shelves lined high with sandwich, split tin and farmhouse loaves, along with an impressive selection of pastries including top hat donuts, eccles cakes, fresh cream buns, and custard slices.
The morning rush of customers starts at 7am. “We get a lot of workmen in the morning, and some children on their way to school.”
Anyone who knows Oundle, knows not to go to Cookies during the Oundle School break when the queue snakes out into the street. While Pret A Manger might offer a variety of wholesome quinoa salads, Cookies serves up hard-to-find traditional favourites for hungry teenagers. “The Oundle School trend of getting a crisp bun has increased. They all get prawn cocktail flavour!”
Cookies then experiences another rush at midday, when people queue to buy a made-to-order baguette. “The filled rolls are popular. More people just want other things than bread and buns. And some people come in who are just out for the day and want to sit and eat a pie, or some people take it home.”
Their regular customers come back because they know what they like, and they know they can get it at Cookies. For the bakery assistants, it’s a familiarity that is reassuring. “It’s nicer to be able to know exactly what they want, and what fillings they want in their sandwiches.”
A reliable, regular clientele forms the sort of relationship that cannot be replicated by larger chain-bakeries. Oundle is a town that embraces local, home-grown business, and Cookies is the epitome of a traditional British bakery that is at the heart of its marketplace.