|Image courtesy of Twool|
The bags are made by Twool, a company that produces yarn made from the fleece of Dartmoor rare breed sheep. West Country Entrepreneur, Kim Stead, and bag brainchild told Waitrose Weekend newspaper:
"We were determined that it should be an entirely British bag and it was challenging finding a weaver. We finally found a mill in Bradford. That sort of thing has been typical. It's been a struggle to find the right people at every step of the way ... but British manufacturers have worked with me."At the time of writing the bags are only available in three London Waitrose stores: Belgravia, Gloucester Road and Marylebone. I rang the the Marylebone store to ask if I could buy a bag over the phone and have it posted to me. The shop assistant told me it wasn't possible. Next I emailed Waitrose customer services with the same question, only to receive the following negative reply:
"Thank you for your email regarding one of our shopping bags. Sadly, we do not have the facility to be able to take on order, or charge you over the phone for the bag."It seems then that the bags are aimed at shoppers only in the three expensive London areas. Could this be because Waitrose wants to keep them very upmarket and doesn't want the provinces getting their hands on them? Whilst I appreciate that perhaps only a small amount of bags may have been manufactured, they could have been shared out across all Waitrose stores or have offered the facility to buy one from the John Lewis website.
The ethos behind the bag is an excellent one, promoting the use of British wool, reviving the British textile industry and encouraging shoppers to use less plastic bags. It's just a shame that not all Waitrose customers have the chance to buy them. At the time of writing Waitrose has not announced any plans to sell the bags in any more of its stores.
My story does, however, have a happy ending. Thanks to a Facebook plea a friend of mine from London has picked me a shoulder bag up. I'll soon be doing my shopping with a Belgravia Waitrose wool bag.