Lawsons is a family-owned, Devon retail business, specialising in Kitchenware and Homeware. They have four shops in the County, at Ivybridge (the HQ), Plymouth, Totnes and here in Tavistock.
Lawsons, as a business, dates back to 1904 and the Tavistock shop was acquired in 1992. This is the town's former corn mill and quite a magnificent building it is too.
What to buy: This is where you can get anything and everything you need for cooking your superb local produce. From gadgets to professional tools, Lawsons has the lot.
As befits a town firmly established as a "Foodie Heaven" Tavi hosts one of the best Delicatessens I've ever come across. As soon as you step through the door your senses are assailed with aromas and visual treats that provoke automatic saliviation.
Behind the gleaming glass-fronted refrigerated counters are displayed a vast array of meats, charcuterie, pates, cured fishes and both local and continental cheeses, all of which gently perfume the air with their competing fragrances.
The shelves and open counters are laden with tins and jars of every imaginable epicurean delight ranging from home-made preserves to Foie Gras, Truffles and Caviar.
Then just to make Paradise more perfect the Wines and Spirits department offers vintage Champagne, Fine Ports, 150 different whiskies and a world-wide range of excellent wines.
What to pay: This isn't the cheapest shop in town, just the most qualitative but you might be surprised at the bargains to be had when you take into account the quality!
Tavistock is well-appointed with a great range of independent local shops, ranging from sexy lingerie to artisanal cheeses (two of my favourites!) and with pretty much everything in between.
For any keen shopper, whether for basics, souvenirs or luxuries, your first stop should be the Pannier Market. Devon's Pannier Markets were developed in the Victorian era after the 1852 Act of Parliament decreeing that market towns should clean up THEIR act or lose their charter.
Thus most of the major towns here built purpose-designed buildings and these became known as Pannier Markets, named after the basket which the traders would bring their goods in with.
Tavi's is, arguably, the finest in the County, having been built from the local stone under direction of the 7th Duke of Bedford and to this day maintains its reputation as being the best for its range of products and overall friendliness.
As well as the stalls there's a couple of excellent little cafes providing proper cafe food, using, of course, the market produce as ingredients.
What to buy: The market has different offerings on different days, although there are some 5-day a week stalls. The Tuesday market offers: Antiques, Collectables, Bric-a-Brac and Crafted Wares. Wednesdays and Thursdays are mixed markets. Friday, which was the original market charter day (dating back to 1105), is predominantly a fresh produce market and Saturdays have varying themes.
When I lived and worked here one of the things I used to buy, every week for the hotel, was 10 litres of a superb Greek Co-operative Extra-virgin Olive Oil, at a price that was half what I would have to pay from my usual oils suplier for an equivalent product.
Website has all the necessary details as well some interesting video footage.
What to pay: Obviously what you pay depends on what you buy but there are bargains to be had!
Tucked away behind the Pannier market is a row of small shops including Sponzi's deli. Originally this was a stall in the market itself but as its reputation grew so did its need for larger premises.
Run by an Italian (who may or may not be called Sponzi) this is very much one of the shops responsible for Tavi's foodie reputation.
What to buy: Imported pastas, biscuits, cheese, oils and cooked meats. Not great for food miles but great for eating.
Sponzi's also sells some ready made savoury foods: buy them - you won't regret it.
What to pay: Fairly pricey but worth it.
Founded in 1105, the Pannier Market is well know locally for it's variety.
You can buy a wide variety of stuff here from local crafts, coffee beans, plants, dog biscuits, books and bags, sewing stuff... well, stuff you'd expect to buy from a market really.
Every now and then the stall holders lose grip on reality and dress up as Georgians. I've never fully understood why...
The market is closed on Sunday and Mondays and closes at the annoyingly early time of 3.30.
What to buy: One stall to look out for is the Women's institute which have a stall on Fridays and sell cakes and the like. It is vital to go very early to see the ladies as they have normally sold out by 11am. They can be found at the back right of the market next to the cafe (which is also pretty good).
As fitting Tavistock's status of the South West's foodie Mecca it hold a bi-weekly Farmer's Market.
For those unfamiliar with the concept a Farmers' Market is a bit like a fair and acts as a forum in which LOCAL food producers can sell direct to the consumer - side-stepping the ubiquitous supermarket.
It is held on the second and fourth Saturday of every month and runs in the morning.
What to buy: Stalls generally include: plants, organic meat (including buffalo, ostrich and excellent venison from Eversfield Manor's stall), cheeses,veg, bread, honey, cider, preserves and hummus. There's also often a stall that involves smoked things (eg eels).
There's often also a couple of stalls selling take away foods.
The market is by its very nature transient and as such the stalls involved vary from week to week. It is always. however, well worth a visit.
Unless you are staying locally in the Tavistock area it is unlikely that you will shop at the local Supermarket, Safeways. I have to say that the store is well laid out, and, compared to our local Tescos in Launceston, much nicer for shopping. However....
What to buy: Do watch what you buy, and compare prices. We noticed that some things, including vegetables, loose tea, sweets and so on, are more expesive than we pay in Launceston. However....
What to pay: There is a hidden bonus for people who have a car. If you spend £20 or more, you get a fuel discount of 2 pence per litre; £50 or more spent in store will give you a discount of 5 pence per litre! Unleaded fuel is currently (21 Jan 03) 74.9 ppl, less your discount! Has to be the cheapest fuel in the area.