New Stalham shop is ‘Truly Local’

A 'farm shop on the high street', believed to be the first of its kind, is set to open in a north Norfolk town.

Truly Local, on Stalham High Street, will solely stock food and other goods produced within a 35-mile radius.

Those behind its launch say they are keen to attract 'ordinary' shoppers and do not want the business to have north Norfolk's affluent 'Chelsea-on-Sea' image.

The shop, which is run as a CIC –Community Interest Company – will sell goods including vegetables and fruit, meat, dairy, bread, preserves, beer, wine, cider, local artwork and cards.

And directors of the not-for-profit business want to hear from other local producers, including allotment groups, with high-quality produce to sell.

East Ruston smallholder and meat producer Mick Sims, 49, who conceived the idea over a year ago, said he believed the shop was unique in Norfolk, if not nationally. 'The idea is to help support local producers and give shoppers the chance to 'keep your pound local,' he said. 'There'll be no oranges, bananas, olives from Italy or cheeses from France - everything in your shopping basket will be from within a certain area.'

The radius had been extended to 35 miles so that England's only whisky, produced at the St George's distillery near Attleborough, could be stocked.

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Because the company only has to make enough money to run itself, and not to pay dividends to shareholders, it can offer a bigger sales percentage to local producers.

Mr Sims is one of four directors of the company, together with his partner Pauline Crudgington and East Ruston neighbours Sue and Rob Andrews, who produce salads.

The CIC has been set up with about �28,000 worth of grants, mainly from the Rural Development Programme for England and the Broads Authority's sustainable development fund.

The shop, which will be managed by Mr Sims, has created three part-time jobs. The directors are also hoping to forge links with local restaurants, lunch clubs and Stalham High School. Stock will include re-useable shopping bags designed by pupils.

Ms Crudgington said that although Truly Local could not be as cheap as nearby Tesco's Value range or buy-one-get-one-free offers, they hoped to compare on price with the supermarket giant's high-end products.

'You have to pay a little bit more for quality and that's what we will be selling – but we don't want people to think the shop is chichi, because it isn't,' she added.

Truly Local is due to open by the beginning of next month and an official ceremony is planned for March 26 when fellow East Ruston resident Alan Gray, of the Old Vicarage gardens, will cut the ribbon.

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