Small Business Saturday Blog

Bitten by the bug in East Sussex

Saturday, November 04, 2023 at 06:30

Maybugs is a family run, independent gift and homewares company based in East Sussex, selling “beautiful things for fabulous people” that are sourced both locally and across the globe. Owner Greg Rose told us, “In Maybugs, you’ll find some of the biggest giftware brands in the world sitting comfortably alongside items made by a lady down the street in her garden shed.” Being flexible about payment options is important to them too: Greg told us, “Taking Amex in our stores opens a whole new world of customers for us. Not only commercial clients, but also many foreign visitors too.”
The Maybugs story all began with a chat in the garden on a summer’s day five years ago. Greg and his husband, John, had decided that it was time for a change: John wanted to move house, but Greg had bigger plans – he wanted to open their own shop.
With combined experience of over 40 years in retail and customer service, they knew they could make it work, and opened their first store, in Hailsham, within four months. Within the next four years, they opened two further outlets, in Eastbourne and Bexhill, and have won a number of awards.
One of the cornerstones of the Maybugs business is that they are part of the community in each of the towns where they are based, and actively support many local causes and charities – something they were thrilled to have recognised when they won the High Street Hero award at The Small Awards 2023.
Maybugs currently employs 15 local staff from many different walks of life. Greg told us, “We utilise their individual skills to make Maybugs as great as it can be. We believe in investing in our staff to help them reach their fullest potential by training in store, as well as using online courses.”
In July 2023, Maybugs opened a permanent artisan market on the first floor of their Eastbourne store, to supply a free space for local artisans to sell and promote their businesses. The market is open five days a week, and features a plethora of local Sussex-based producers and a selection of UK made products.
Greg told us, “When we were starting out with Maybugs, we were given so many opportunities and help that this is our way of paying forward the favour. We hope that locals and tourists alike will love the concept of a permanent base in the town where you’ll find the best of what Eastbourne has to offer.”
Any small business can apply for a stall, and Greg and John, with their decades of retail experience, will mentor the stall holders, to help them understand how to approach other retailers and succeed in the world of retail.
Sponsoring events, charities and sports in their community is also important to Greg and John. They’ve been the main club sponsor for Hailsham Hockey Club for the past four years and counting and have sponsored the Charity for Kids annual calendar event for the past two years, with plans to do it again in 2024.
In the past, they have proudly sponsored Eastbourne Pride, Hailsham Live, Bexhill Community Coronation Celebrations, and are current sponsors of Bexhill Community Carnival, as well as supporting hundreds of smaller charities, schools and good causes with raffle prizes and goody bag giveaways.
In the run up to Christmas last year, they held an ‘advent calendar’ on their social platforms promoting other local businesses. Alongside this, they also offered free parking for customers who spent over £50 in their shops throughout December, which saw more than 800 shoppers claim their parking charges back from Maybugs and which benefited all the retailers in their towns.
They’re looking forward to celebrating Small Business Saturday in December too – one of the many benefits of the American Express Shop Small campaign – and, unsurprisingly, they’re excited to include other small local businesses in their plans. Greg told us, “We can’t wait to be part of Small Business Saturday! We have some exciting plans underway to make sure the day is extra special and is focused on celebrating all the small businesses in the towns where our stores are located.”
Maybugs’ future plans don’t stop at East Sussex. Greg told us, “Our future involves expansion across Sussex and beyond. We’d also love to expand into premium ladies’ wear and children’s clothing, all with a focus on sustainability where possible. Ideally, we will trade with more local independent businesses too.”
Visit Maybugs at 27 Vicarage Field, Hailsham BN27 1BG, 42 Devonshire Road, Bexhill On Sea TN40 1AX or 129 Terminus Road, Eastbourne BN21 3NR, or shop online here. Click here to find out more about the American Express Shop Small campaign.


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