I was passing through Bridport a while ago when I found myself outside a real, old-fashioned greengrocer’s shop. The racks of fruit and vegetables outside were fairly bulging with items to unfailingly fascinate any foodie. There was my favourite Romanesco with its emerald spirals, but there was also a deep, purple velvety cauliflower and a burnished bronze beetroot. Suddenly the heavens opened, and in a trice I was a sodden wreck. I fled from the torrential rain, and entered the shop. Puddles of water dripped onto the floor as I browsed, but Marina, the owner, was welcoming and knowledgeable about everything there. I made a selection and right at the last minute I also bought a head of black garlic – what a revelation!
Afterwards I spoke to Marina’s daughter, Jen, about the shop and how and why her parents, Marina and Steve Price, had bought the business the previous year. They’d been working in the French countryside for eight years, and there was no doubt the weather, at the very least, was certainly better there:
How and why did your parents come to buy this business – was what they were doing in France connected in any way?
My parents decided to buy the greengrocers (Bridget’s Market was the original name of the business) because they had been looking for a food related business in the South West and the one they were originally looking at fell through. Bridget’s Market was then available to purchase shortly after and they decided that it looked like a great opportunity. This was a complete change from what they were doing in France.
Has there been anything which has surprised them – either good or bad?
Pleasantly surprised by the friendly nature of the people of Bridport.
What have been the main challenges?
The long hours! The shop is open from 7am-5pm six days a week which took a bit of getting used to, along with the move to a colder climate.
What are the main sourcing difficulties?
There aren’t really any problems sourcing stock as they use a range of large suppliers. Occasionally it can be hard to get hold of fruit and vegetables out of season or transport problems can sometimes result in deliveries arriving late which can have an impact on us preparing orders for our wholesale customers.
What has been their biggest success?
The ongoing revamp of the shop which has included remerchandising and installing new counters. This has impressed regular customers who say that the shop feels much more loved now than it did before. We’re also happy that this has given us the chance to extend the range of products on sale including a growing wholefoods section.
What is your wholesale/retail customer split, and what are the main differences between these two markets?
Approximately a third of our customers are wholesale who include many of the local pubs, restaurants and cafes, with the remaining two-thirds of the business serving retail customers. There is increasing interest in our wholefood business with customers now asking if they can stock some more unusual ingredients such as coconut flour.
Which fruit and vegetables are the most popular and why?
Trends in fruit sales are seasonal though bananas are popular all year round; strawberries, peaches and nectarines are favourites during the summer. With regard to vegetables, potatoes, carrots, onions and seasonal greens are popular, particular with the older customers. During the summer corn on the cob is also popular. In the autumn quashes, sprouts, English apples and pears arrive. Then pumpkins arrive in time for Halloween, and we stock chestnuts and cranberries in the run up to Christmas.