This is the first in a serious of blogs about my new personal project: a project on independent traders and shop owners that make Chorlton what it is today - a suburb with bohemian character.
The aim of my project is to introduce you to the faces behind Chorlton’s shop doors. I want to celebrate the people who love what they do and who believe in what they do while being in competition with big chains every single day. These individuals are determined to serve their community by providing them with a variety of products, sourced fresh, locally or even continentally. Not only are their customers offered a great choice but they are also presented with the opportunity to support small and local producers, designers and artisan. Considering the high costs and commitment involved of running a business on the high street, I believe Chorlton’s indies ought to be cherished!
For me, the project is twofold. I would like to honour Chorlton’s independents because they make Chorlton the lovely place it is. In addition, I also have personal attachment as it reminds me of my home. I reckon it also takes many of us back to our childhood, a time when the butcher, the bakery, the green grocer, the little sweet shop were the places to go to on a daily basis. So, I hope many of you will agree that it is worth celebrating that these places still exist. Some of the local shops may charge more than the big chains, but not only does the quality of their products often exceed our expectations but the shopping experience is also much more personal and enjoyable.
My second incentive for this project is to challenge myself by creating traditional (or classical) black and white portraits; to stretch my skills whilst telling the story of the place, which I have been calling my home for over seven years now.
The first in my series of Chorlton’s independents is Epicerie Ludo, a grocery story and wine merchant on Beech Road in Chorlton. Some of my readers might remember a blog earlier last year about Ludo and his fantastic delicatessen shop. I have photographed his premises before and we have been working together ever since.
Ludo (short for Ludovic) initially moved from France to London, where he was living for a while until his company asked him to move to Manchester. In Manchester, he met his partner. How lovely is that! Although going back to London for a short while again, he eventually settled in Manchester and became, as he calls himself, a Francunian (French Mancunian). Long term, Ludo felt unsatisfied working in the same place and so the idea of opening his own French deli was planted and grew stronger every day.
In December 2011, Ludo & Darren opened Epicerie Ludo on Beech Road. They searched hard to select the best of local, British, French and Continental products to create a wonderful shopping experience.
Right from the start, Epicerie Ludo wanted to reduce their environmental impact as much as they could and consequently always try to seek out artisan suppliers that care about quality ingredients, which are sourced carefully and with consideration. Finding many products locally, they also encourage continued sustainability for their suppliers in return.
Not long into their journey, offering many different products such as cheese and wine, the requests from the local community for Ludo selling bread grew louder. Epicerie Ludo now produces bread on demand to ensure its freshness all day long. This is the great advantage about the shops in our local streets: the person that owns it wants every single customer to be happy and hence will listen to his or her needs and wishes.
Epicerie Ludo also considers working patterns and hours of us Chorltonites by being open every day from 9am to 10pm. One is able to fetch lovely fresh bread and sausages for dinner, despite having worked till 8pm, or to get some scrumptious pralines on the way to a friend’s house late in the evening.
The team at Ludo share a passion for their products and are committed to offering outstanding levels of customer service. They are always friendly and above all knowledgeable.
How well perceived Epicerie Ludo is, is shown by its success: in November 2013 Ludo won ‘Hero of the Highstreet’, a competition run by MEN in conjunction with American Express for Small Business Saturday, and in autumn 2014 Best Food & Drink Retailer in the Manchester Food and Drink Festival.
Epicerie Ludo regularly work with local charities, provide support and assist with fundraising activities, which also includes collections in the shop. To name but a few, they donate all proceeds from the sale of Tag cards (a local discount loyalty card) to Francis House Children's Hospice. Furthermore, they support charities by offering hampers full of goodness as raffle prizes.
So, if you have never been to Epicerie Ludo, you should pay them a visit because you are seriously missing out on some local goodness!
Before I leave you with the images below, I need to ask you, dear reader, for a favour, please! I have tried hard to think local, indies, Chorlton, portraits, high street but I have yet to find a title for my project. So, if you have some ideas, I would love to hear them! Please feel free to comment below.