Vegan store near Wolverhampton
You know how I am always going on about supporting independent vegan stores?
Well, here is an insight into one such business and I think it gives you a great feel for the love, dedication and commitment independent business people put into vegan grocery stores.
Scott from Friendly Foods just outside Wolverhampton dropped into my inbox to share the following info about the business he runs with Sara.
The store opened in July 2016, initially just at weekends as Sara was still working full time in her job (25 years in the NHS) as a Clinical Psychologist. The intention was to move full-time which duly happened in September ’16. The origins of the store have various inspirations. Sara and Scott went vegan in the late 80s as students and animal rights activists. Kids, work, hassles duly arrived and our veganism lapsed back to vegetarian. We have 3 opinionated kids (Becca – 22, Gregor – 18 and Issy – 16). All made their own decisions to go vegan as teenagers and we were both back in the fold inspired by their example. The idea for opening a store was cemented by a combination of our visits to the annual vegan fest that is the West Midlands Vegan Festival (in Wolves) and Sara just being sick and fed up of Tory induced madness in the health services she managed. Opening the store was all a bit off the cuff but just felt so right and we were lucky to be in a position to give it a go.
Their story continues:
The store is located about 5 miles from the centre of Wolverhampton on the A454 which is the main road between Wolverhampton and Bridgnorth. The store is on a retail park site called “The Garden Village” next to one of the 3 garden centres on the A454 with plentiful free car parking and a local (number 9) bus service. The idea simply is to be a one stop shop for people to find vegan groceries and the growth since September ’16 has been a delightful surprise. The simple ethos is to be a welcoming space for anyone – be they vegan, vegan curious or transitioning – and to make it easier for them to follow a compassionate lifestyle. More of a sanctuary than a shop.
How about moving forward for Friendly Foods?
We are now in bigger unit (since November ’16) and things are going so well we are now even starting to outgrow this larger unit. The range of stock continues to grow week by week and we stock a wide range of the popular vegan brands (Sgaia Mheats, Love Seitan, Wheaty, Vegusto, Bute Island, Violife, Oatly, Ombar, Vego, Anandas, Eat Real, Ten Acre etc etc), the mega One Planet Pizza and vegan essentials like Vital Wheat Gluten, Nutloaf mixes, nuts, pulses, beans, yeast flakes and jackfruit. We also make a point of stocking the more difficult to find artisan vegan products like Tyne Chease, Naturally Vegan Food Company cheezes, Cool Jerk Vegan Pies, Left Field Kombucha, Little Vegan Cookie as well as locally sourced products (like Butterbelle nut butters).
How about opening hours?
The store is open 6 days a week. Wednesday is the only day we are closed. Running the store is a real family effort. Becca helps a bit on social media and Sara’s mum and step dad (Susu and Mikey who are now vegan converts!) are the friendly faces serving in the shop on Sun, Mon and Tues. The other days are covered by Sara and Scott.