Independent businesses are booming on street as small shops prosper

PUBLISHED: 12:00 02 November 2020 | UPDATED: 14:47 02 November 2020

More Italy's every day products now are its speciality. Picture: Adriana Elgueta

More Italy's every day products now are its speciality. Picture: Adriana Elgueta

Adriana Elgueta

Shopping local is booming in Wanstead, shop owners say.

The Ginger Pig butchers. Picture: Adriana ElguetaThe Ginger Pig butchers. Picture: Adriana Elgueta

Wanstead High Street is awash with independent businesses from butchers, fishmongers and bakeries to art supplies and gift shops, unique traders passionate about their produce.

Owner of Italian deli, More Italy, Vincenzo Cossari, said that preparation and adapting quickly was key to the shop’s survival, and subsequent success.

“We heard about everything a couple weeks in advance from friends and family in Italy, so we decided to take the chairs in and move more towards a supermarket service than a cafe a good two weeks before the official lockdown in March,” he said.

With supermarkets running out of essentials such flour and pasta, due to panic buying and gaps in the supply chain, More Italy had good personal relationships with Italian suppliers and it supply chain was uninterrupted/ That meant it could keep Wanstead residents supplied with the essentials, unavailable in the blighted supermarkets.

Support local high street shops.Support local high street shops.

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Vincenzo also agreed to having no minimum order for items, so isolating or shielding residents could get one or two items without having to leave the house.

“It was good for the community and it was good for us, the spirit was right,” he says.

Clientele also shifted from being up-market and specialist to everyday products for families and young adults, resulting in increased sales that appear to be lasting.

Simple 'n' Natural organic food store. Picture: Adriana ElguetaSimple 'n' Natural organic food store. Picture: Adriana Elgueta

“The trend is here to stay,” he adds. More Italy intends to stay as more a supermarket-deli than a cafe-deli and says its found its niche. The unique everyday produce from Italy is a lot more in demand than coffee.

Likewise, Melanie X of The Art Shop says that aside from the actual lockdown period with non-essential shops closed, shoppers seem like they have been considerate to source gifts and cards locally, and although they are still recovering from the lockdown closure, she was “optimistic” about the future.

For health food shop, Simple ‘n’ Natural, its main issue were gaps in the supply chain.

“We could have turned over more,” said owner John with reference to the preceding months but he agreed the loyal customers and strong community spirit meant that his business has gone relatively unharmed by the pandemic,

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