Today (the 4th July) is Independents’ Day. I believe there’s another, similar sounding festival across the Herring Pond, but the one I’m talking of aims to help independent retailers and those who serve consumers to get and stay open for business!
How did I celebrate Independents’ Day? I visited Cheerbrook Farm Shop
my local independent farm shop. We’re very lucky where I live – I could have gone to many other excellent small independent traders.
Andrew and Sarah Shufflebotham opened this award winning shop 15 years ago, and it’s gone from strength to strength. Today we had a chance to meet many of their (local) suppliers. They all take a pride in what they do, and are even anxious for you to have a free sample, because they know you’ll enjoy it (and hopefully buy it again in future).
That’s the beauty of shopping local. They don’t have expensive transport costs (or blocking motorways) and if something isn’t perfect they’re keen to know how they could improve it! There are no expensive accountants (saying we can’t afford to do that) and marketing teams who are more about conning you, than informing you.
I enjoyed talking to their producers, and finding out how their products are made and also getting tips on how to serve them.
Take Wrenbury Cider for instance. Paul and Gill Sweeney are producing Cheshire cider and helping preserve traditional English orchards. Their cider is made from traditional cider apples, grown on their own land just 7 miles away. It’s made with 100% apple juice (the big producers are allowed to use only 30% apple juice and still call it cider)! If you’re counting your (alcohol) units, it’s weaker than wine. It’s also packed full of flavour, without any nasty additives. We didn’t just discuss cider, I had to ask how their Cheshire Shropshire sheep were (they live in Cheshire, but the breed is Shropshire).
My wife didn’t come with me, as she needed to go Nantwich Market. That’s because we think London Road Bakery GI bread is fantastic (and good for your health). They also do amazing gingerbread – but always sell out (by about 8:30am)! However when you shop local you can build up a relationship with your suppliers (so there’s always a bag for our family, providing we’re there by 10:30am).
Similarly our wonderful fishmonger (Stuart Hornby in Nantwich Market), looked after me when I lost my job last year. He suggested cheaper fish (that also tasted great) and occasionally I’d find an extra “gift” in my shopping. I don’t remember getting that sort of treatment in the big multiples, just BOGOF’s of things I only wanted one of…
So that’s way I was only too happy to support Independents’ Day. It makes shopping a pleasure and not a chore!