Meet the Business: Message In a Bottle

Today we meet Charles from Message in a Bottle. A specialist bottle shop and weekend bar in Cleethorpes.

Tell me a little bit about you and your business? 

I’m Charles, I’m 38 and I own message in a bottle which is specialist bottle shop and weekend bar in Cleethorpes. I am originally from Grimsby but lived in Yorkshire for a number of years and then moved ‘back home’ in 2016.

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Whilst living in Leeds, I developed a passion for craft beer and was able to go part-time with my job in the NHS which allowed me to set up the first ever craft beer shop in the area. Starting just as a shop specialising in beer, we now have a weekend bar every Saturday and Sunday and sell a wide range of premium spirits.

We helped launch Cleethorpes Pale Ale with Axholme Brewing Company and have also created Cleethorpes Hopped Gin and Cleethorpes Rum. As you can probably tell, I love Cleethorpes, my wife is from here as well and it’s a great place for our daughter to grow up.
What made you decide to start your business? 
Moving back to Cleethorpes was probably one of the main reasons. I had been looking for jobs here for a while but then saw the growth of craft beer in cities such as Leeds and saw the massive gap in the market in the area I was from. So unable to find a job here, I created one!
When we opened there was nowhere for people to buy local ales or craft beer. From day one, it was clear that there was a demand and thankfully things have gone really well. I was fortunate enough to have lots of help from family and friends, without which it wouldn’t be possible.

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What do you love most about owning your own business?
It’s exciting, it’s fun and it’s unpredictable. It is also good to hear that people think we have, in some small way, helped to improve the area. I also get to try some amazing beers as part of my ‘research’!
What do you least like about owning your own business? 
It can be stressful. The buck stops with you, so if there is a crisis it’s your problem. For example, I now have a greater understanding of how to fix toilets.
What do you have planned for your business in the future? 
We’ve achieved an awful lot in the last few months. Launching our own spirits (Cleethorpes Rum and Cleethorpes Hopped Gin) were a massive achievement and I have some more ideas along these lines up my sleeve. We have also recently ramped up our pop up food events. These have been a great success and it’s fantastic for us to host local food businesses so expect plenty more of these in the future.
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What advice would you give to someone wanting to start their own business but not knowing where to start?
Listen to people and be prepared to work hard. I got great advice from the council, CAMRA, my accountant, potential customers, family and basically anyone who would talk to me. There is help out there for start-ups in this area and the help I received has been invaluable.
What are you most proud of when it comes to your business?  
It’s not really my place to say, but personally I think we have had a positive impact on Grimsby and Cleethorpes. The local beer scene is thriving at the moment and we were at the forefront of that change. We actively promote other local businesses and initiatives and it’s great to see so much positivity in the area at the moment.
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Do you think local businesses are well supported in NEL?
Yes. We have a great working relationship with the council, E-Factor and other organisations. There is also a growing move towards ‘shop local’ and supporting independents which helps us.
How do you feel the business culture has changed in North East Lincs? 
The outlook is certainly more positive now. I have spoken to so many people who are running start ups or thinking of taking the plunge. The independent sector round our part of Cleethorpes has grown massively and it’s great to be surrounded by like minded businesses. I’m a huge fan of collaborations between small businesses and I think we will see more and more of these.
Where can people find you both online and in “real life”?
We are very active online. We have a website (miabcleethorpes.net) plus Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. We post all of our upcoming events on these as well as showing off new beers. The shop and bar are based on Cambridge Street in the heart of Cleethorpes.
As for me, if I’m not at message in a bottle, I’m usually working from home! I love going to  Haverstoe Park and the beach with my family  – we are so lucky to have so much on our door step. Other than that, I spent a lot of time ferrying my daughter to dance classes and competitions, but try to make time to watch Grimsby Town when I can.

Thank you Charles for an insight into your business! I definitely need to pop in to try these exciting craft beers and the Cleethorpes Gin!

G x

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