Welcome back to my project about Chorlton’s independents. If this is your first time visiting and you would like to find out more about this project, feel free to read blog number one, in which I also talk about Epicerie Ludo on Beech Road.
The forth indie I would like to introduce, this time back at the precinct, are Steph and Becky of Elliott’s Fruits and Vegetables. Two fascinating ladies - I was truly captivated by their story.
Becky used to work in the shop, where Elliott’s is now located, as a manager. Having been there for 8 years, Becky often thought it would be great to run the shop herself – to work for herself, to harvest the fruits of her hard work for herself and not somebody else. When the shop finally closed down, Becky and Steph took the opportunity to set up Elliott’s, their own fruit and vegetable shop. Running a business requires certain skills and Becky and Steph were lucky that their friend, who owned a camping shop at the time, helped them to get started. And only last month, on the 26th March, Elliott’s celebrated their three-year anniversary! Congratulations!!!
To my question what working in the precinct is like, Steph and Becky responded with a big smile: “the other business owners are great and we genuinely enjoy the lovely and friendly atmosphere. It’s much nicer and better used than it is always portrayed.” The Chorlton precinct is a little community on its own and businesses seem to be doing well, which is also proven by the regular customers that frequent Elliott’s. Steph and Becky especially enjoy their regular clients as they can see their children growing up and can so, to some degree, be part of their life.
How Steph and Becky named their green grocery was a specially heart warming story for me. Becky’s mum, who had sadly passed away by the time Steph and Becky opened the shop, was called Elliott. As Becky invested some of her mum’s inheritance into the shop, the name Elliott’s, in honour to her mum, was the only appropriate and logical name to use.
I really enjoy this project and looking behind the scenes of our Chorlton indies is just fascinating. For example, I found it incredible how much work goes into running a fresh produce shop. Steph and Becky work six days a week, every week. Five days out of those six they get up at 5am to go to the green grocer market, ensuring their customers are supplied with the freshest produce only. And if that wasn’t enough, once they have closed the green grocery in the evening, Steph and Becky donate their time to the Mad Dog Street Project five days a week too!
You may have heard of the Mad Dog Street Project, an initiative to help the homeless of Manchester. Now running for 18 months, it was originally set up by a gentleman, delivering to the homeless once a week. At the beginning, butcher Frost donated meat and Elliott’s donated vegetables and fruits. However, when the project at some point needed better organisation, six people, including Steph and Becky, took over its running in January 2014.
The project currently has 105 volunteers and delivers goods such as water, hot meals, cakes and clothes to the streets of Manchester. As there are a few soup kitchens in the area of Piccadilly already, the Mad Dog Street Project concentrates on the outskirts of Manchester, starting every night in Withington and then running up Oxford Road and down Deansgate. The help is very well perceived by the individuals living on the streets of Manchester; possibly also due to the fact that the project is not organised by a religious group.
Apart from donations of food and clothes, funds for the project are also raised via the book sale at Elliott’s. The selling of used books, which has now become part of the Mad Dog Street Project, was originally just a temporary measure when a generous someone donated such a large amount of books, that Steph and Becky were a little overwhelmed with the quantity and placed them outside the shop for sale. Very quickly it has become so popular that more book donations followed, now even with schools donating. Also, some customers got into the habit of donating back their purchased books after having read them. Well, at 50 pence a book, it’s an absolute bargain for a fabulous cause! So far, from the book sale alone £3500 were raised!
If you would like to find out more about the Mad Dog Street Project, you can visit their website or check out their facebook page, more than 3000 people liked it already. You can also donate directly to Elliott’s in the precinct. Donations of food, books, clothes are always welcome, much appreciated and might even help the new project of renovating a hostel in Salford. Any donated clothes, which are not suitable or out of season, will be sold at the market that is taking place once a month outside the Post Box Café; all proceedings will of course go towards the MDSP. And if you would like to get involved as a volunteer, just sent a message to the Facebook page or an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
It is remarkable how much is involved in running your own business and independent store and I guess many of us have not put much thought into it. Therefore, I am sincerely hoping to raise a little awareness with this Chorlton project. If you are not already, maybe you can pay Chorlton’s indies a little visit now and then? You will be surprised how pleasant your shopping experience will be! So, please feel free to share these blogs with your friends and family. And if you have not seen the previous blogs, here is a link to the blog about Chorlton Art Market and Arison Gallery.