Stalham’s Truly Local shop celebrates its fifth birthday
A 'back to the future' shop is celebrating five years of old-fashioned service and selling strictly local produce.
Before the rise of the supermarket, independent grocers were a common sight on Britain's high streets.
Hardly any remain. But, by using volunteer staff supporting a paid manager, Stalham's Truly Local shop is bucking the trend despite being close to the town's large Tesco store.
Supporters are inviting customers old and new to celebrate its fifth birthday on March 22 with homemade cake and samples of some of its goodies.
Shop chiefs say Truly Local, on High Street, has put more than £600,000 back into the local economy during its life span and given more than 110 local producers an outlet for their goods, paying them a fair price.
Nothing in the shop comes from further away than 40 miles, a radius recently extended from 35 miles to allow dog biscuits made on the Sandringham Estate to be included.
Prince Charles showed his support for the venture when he dropped in and bought items in 2012, the same year that Truly Local took the Independent Retailer of the Year title in the Norfolk Food and Drink Awards.
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Much of the fresh and seasonal fruit and vegetables on sale is grown close to Stalham and sometimes people will call in offering their garden surplus which the shop sells on a 50:50 basis.
'We've been offered people's homegrown medlars, quince and, once, an exotic Bolivian vegetable. Customers like having unusual choices,' said shop manager Debs Coupe.
Truly Local's products ranged from dairy to meat, fish, wine, beer, bread, plants, crafts, jewellery and cards, according to voluntary director Rob Andrews.
Prices were comparable with supermarkets, sometimes cheaper, and, because it was run as a not-for-profit Community Interest Company, it did not have to haggle with producers to meet the demands of shareholders.
Volunteer shop assistant John Tisshaw said he was a regular customer and had wanted to get more involved.
'I love the concept of looking after local producers, lovely products and a lovely set of customers who come in for a chat,' he added.
'It's an old-fashioned way of doing things which is helping to keep the High Street vibrant.'