'You've got to diversify' - cafe and gallery owner braves expansion

Andy Sullivan at Norski Noo's Gallery in Dereham

Andy Sullivan at Norski Noo's Gallery in Dereham - Credit: Archant

The owner of a Dereham cafe and art gallery has taken the plunge by expanding his business in a bid to stand out from the crowd. 

Andy Sullivan has overseen the recent extension of Norski Noo's Gallery, off Nunn's Way, which saw him take on the old furniture shop next door.

A gallery room at Norski Noo's off Nunn's Way, Dereham

A gallery room at Norski Noo's off Nunn's Way, Dereham - Credit: Archant

In doing so the 59-year-old has branched out to create Coffee and Canvas, where customers can enjoy a drink and a slice of cake - while also soaking up high-quality artwork. 

"We were already serving coffee but it has taken off," said Mr Sullivan. "What I wanted to do was move things forward by offering a really good package at a really good price.

"I thought I needed to take things a little bit away from being simply an art gallery, and marry the two together - which is what we've done to create Coffee and Canvas.

Andy Sullivan has expanded Norski Noo's Gallery in Dereham

Andy Sullivan has expanded Norski Noo's Gallery in Dereham - Credit: Archant

"We'll do a coffee of your choice, make our own teabags for your tea, and our scones are fresh from Wellbread Bakery in Swaffham. 

"This is all about trying to elevate things but keep it affordable. For £6 you're getting a cream tea with fresh, local produce and a drink of your choice - plus a chance to look around the gallery, where people will hopefully buy some art!"

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Business at Norski Noo's has, Mr Sullivan admits, been heavily impacted by coronavirus and numerous lockdowns.

But he knows he is not alone and, instead of dwelling on the past, is sharply focused on what he can do to stay attractive. 

"You've just got to diversify - which is what we're doing - and think outside the box," he added.

"I always say let's not harp on about what's already happened; let's harp on about what we're doing next. Everybody's had it tough but, at the end of the day, you've got to make it work."

The gallery space at Norski Noo's in Dereham

The gallery space at Norski Noo's in Dereham - Credit: Archant

Also on the radar is the imminent arrival of Starbucks in Dereham Market Place, but Mr Sullivan, who opened his gallery seven years ago, is unfazed.

He said: "To be honest, it's a chain and it doesn't worry me.

"We're not catering for that market. We're catering for people who want to come in for a coffee, some cake and take in some artwork - not the grab and go sort of thing. 

"Actually, competition is good anyway. You've got to think on your feet then to be better."

Norski Noo's gallery is located off Nunn's Way in Dereham

Norski Noo's gallery is located off Nunn's Way in Dereham - Credit: Archant