My Yorkshire: Liz Kemp, of Kemps General Store and Kemps on the Coast
Liz Kemp is the owner of award winning Kemps General Store in Malton and the newly opened Kemps on the Coast in Whitby. She is an advocate for keeping the high street independent and works to encourage fellow retailers to also work within the business community to everyone’s benefit.
Where do you live/where are you from?
I have retail in the blood and my love of merchandising was inherited from a happy upbringing above a small shop owned by my parents in Bramham, near Leeds. I’m a Yorkshire woman but I have been lucky enough to travel throughout my career and enjoyed many years in London before returning to my roots 20 years ago.
What is your favourite place to visit in Yorkshire and why?
I often take day trips to Whitby or Sandsend to give myself time to think outside of the box and I spotted the shop in Whitby on one of these visits.
I, like many people, enjoy being by the water. I think these two locations share a feeling of ‘time-stood-still’ and Whitby and Sandsend manage to remind you constantly of how life was by the sea before our 21st century distractions. There are also many jewels hidden in the region like Falling Foss and its lovely tearoom.
What is still on your “to do” list in the region?
As a child we spent lots of time in the Dales and Bolton Abbey was a favourite of my late mum’s. Making time to explore as an adult is on the list but I also want to visit Wentworth Woodhouse in South Yorkshire, see the snowdrops at Burton Agnes Hall and not leave it too late to see the puffins on Bempton Cliffs which I do every year.
What is the most memorable meal you’ve ever had in Yorkshire?
Malton is now renowned as Yorkshire’s food capital so there is a genuine wealth of excellent eateries from which to choose. However, my most memorable meal has to be at The Pheasant Inn in Harome when over dinner with my partner Jonathan, I made the decision to go with my gut and get into retail.
My day job included managing million pound events in places like Abu Dhabi but I recognised that my heart lay in a shop in Yorkshire and that’s where the story begins. I’d like to think the delicious meal – and flowing wine – at The Pheasant had to take some responsibility for kick-starting my dream and I’m very grateful for that.
What is your most Yorkshire trait?
I’m very keen that we provide an excellent customer experience at both my shops and it’s a big part of our offer. I think Yorkshire people are very welcoming and the shops are my excuse to see old friends and new. I just have to remember to let them browse in peace!
Favourite piece of trivia about the region.
The Yorkshire coastline is like a who’s who in the world of geology with a variety of shales, sand, limestone, and various other rock formations I’ll leave to the experts. But I do know that Flamborough Head boasts the biggest underwater chalk reef in Europe – another feather in our Yorkshire hat.
What is your favourite cultural icon to come out of Yorkshire?
As a Doctor Who fan I have to say one of my contemporary cultural icons would be Jodie Whittaker, but from the past Anne Lister has to be an icon and a role model and the brilliant Sally Wainwright who is a Yorkshire woman too.
Worst experience or thing about Yorkshire?
Our rivalry with Lancashire.
What is one thing you’d steal from Lancashire (or other UK regions) if you could?
Their football teams and their successes …. We could do with a dose here, go Leeds!
What is the most overrated thing about Yorkshire?
If someone mentions the number of Michelin Stars we have here in Yorkshire, or beating other countries with our Yorkshire medals in the last Olympics, I might possibly implode. I genuinely think people are sick of hearing it. Let’s leave that trumpet blowing to others. We know what we have here.