Thingy-Ma-Jigs Coffee House - The Independent Tees Collective

27 Mar 2021

Source: Thingy-Ma-Jigs

I don't know about you guys, but one thing that I'm desperately looking forward to when lockdown is over is being able to sit in a cafe, restaurant or pub. Sure, sitting outside is nice if the weather is good, but there's something to be said for sitting inside somewhere atmospheric, cosy or quirky. So to satisfy this craving just a little bit, today's Independent Tees Collective post is about a coffee house that I'm itching to try post-pandemic.

Thingy-Ma-Jigs Coffee House is a beloved spot in Guisborough, boasting beautiful cakes, food for multiple dietary requirements, and a dynamic husband and wife duo at the helm. This business was strongly requested for this series and having heard so much about it, I was keen to learn more about the coffee house! If you want to know more about Thingy-Ma-Jigs, the pair behind the biz, and how the coffee house was started, keep reading.

Hello! Let's start with a bit of an introduction. Who are you and what is your business all about?

We are Bruce and Sarah Cameron, owners of Thingy-Ma-Jigs Coffee House, an inclusive, quirky, and low waste spot in Guisborough. We are an independent coffee shop that focuses on incredible, locally roasted Rountons coffee and an exceptional array of loose leaf teas, as well as speciality teas like matcha and flowering teas. We also do our own recipe hot chocolate!

Bruce solely runs the coffee shop and makes all food, from the pastry used to make pies, to the chutney that goes with the cheese scones, specialising in gluten free, dairy free and vegan products. We try to reuse and recycle where we can to avoid food waste, so everything is made on site. The shop has been fitted out with reclaimed wood furniture - Bruce even made the table tops himself with wood from pallets!

We wanted a place where everyone felt welcome, whether you wanted to have one drink and sit in the window with a book for hours or come in for a light lunch whilst you have your laptop and finish some work. Before opening, Bruce wanted to make it dog-friendly, but very few places were doing this at the time and I was reluctant. However, he said "we are an inclusive coffee shop. Everyone is welcome," and it was the best decision, especially after our own dog died a year after opening - we get to see lots of our canine friends!

Source: Thingy-Ma-Jigs Coffee House

Where did the inspiration for Thingy-Ma-Jigs come from? What made you want to open the coffee house?

Bruce and I had lived in West Sussex for 20 years, working and raising our family. Bruce has been a chef for 35 years, and has had experience working in Michelin starred restaurants to contract catering. From a young age, he always wanted his own restaurant, to be his own boss and as the years went by, those dreams seemed less realistic.

We had a sudden death in the family, which brought us up to the North East for the funeral. We had a wonderful weekend with family and friends, and the children played with their cousins, and I think Bruce had a bit of a eureka moment. When we got home, we decided to move up North and open a coffee shop! We were open to all of the Tees Valley area, but we made sure to find a place that was right for us, so we could put our mark on it.

What is your favourite thing on the menu? And which cake do you think we need to try on our next visit?

This is a really difficult question! I personally love Bruce's cheese scone with tomato and pear chutney - it's absolutely stunning. But as a chocolate fan, I love the brownie, and the chocolate and raspberry cake. However, his Victoria Sponge is also incredible. Bruce does love a chicken tikka panini and his homemade vegan soup is always scrummy. You should also come and try his battenburgs, Nanaimo bars, Rocky Road, millionaire shortbread... I could go on!

Source: Thingy-Ma-Jigs Coffee Shop

What do you enjoy most about running Thingy-Ma-Jigs?

The best thing is making your own decisions and having it exactly how we want it. We also love creating amazing friendships with our regular customers. Mostly though, it's seeing people's reactions when they're enjoying a cuppa and a treat, and feeling happy in our shop.

What has been Thingy-Ma-Jigs' biggest achievement so far?

Our biggest achievement is still being here. Opening your own business is tough and many fail in the first 2 years. We have been slowly building our business and we still have a long way to go, but last year was the toughest and we have seen many businesses close. We have been embraced and accepted as part of the community of Guisborough.

Secondly is our customers. We have amazing loyal customers who come from all over - Scotland, Wales, Ireland, France, Canada, Australia - we even had someone visit the shop because it had been recommended by someone they bumped into at Leeds Airport! It really means a lot to know people love what we do. 

Our inclusivity is also one of our biggest achievements. Before we opened, many places didn't understand the importance of food allergies or intolerance,  and some still don’t. However, we have noticed that people seem to follow our lead and are improving the products they now offer, which makes us very proud.

What do you love about the Teesside independent scene?

There are so many talented, gifted, hard working people out there, and there is a lovely mix of independent and chain businesses, which makes the towns thrive. We have recently had four new independent businesses open on Bow Street, and it just makes the town look incredible and will  hopefully encourage more people to visit.

Source: Thingy-Ma-Jigs Coffee House

What's next for Thingy-Ma-Jigs? What do you hope for the future?

With this last year, our hope is to hopefully re-open properly at full capacity, and welcome everyone back in when it's safe to do so. We then need to work hard on maintaining high standards and building the business back up. Our big dream is to bring out the Thingy-Ma-Jigs Recipe Book and who knows,  maybe open more shops, but we aren't in a rush. We do get asked a lot by people to open shops in their area though, as they don't have anything like us nearby!

And finally, recommend one other Teesside independent to us!

It's hard to just recommend one as there are so many, however, Ruffled Flowers is a beautiful, intimate, friendly florist and is one of the new additions to Bow Street.

As I said, Thingy-Ma-Jigs are a much loved Guisborough spot, so I don't think there's any stopping this pair. They offer such a unique style of coffee shop and a huge array of treats that I don't think any of us could turn down. What also makes the place special is how down to earth the owners are - I love a family-run biz and I just love how genuine Bruce and Sarah are. If you want to see more from Thingy-Ma-Jigs, make sure you check them out on Facebook and Instagram.

Make sure you check back next week for another incredible Tees independent!

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