Tuesday 11 March 2008

Hammersmith’s Bushwacker Wholefoods At the Forefront Of A Retail Revolution

Back in 1982, six years before the modern Fair Trade movement was formally established and when the current organic food sector was still a twinkle in an environmentalist’s eye; Chris and Sunita Shipton set up Bushwacker Wholefoods.

Chris tells me that their aim "was always to source high quality food that‘s produced by suppliers committed to looking after their workers, their livestock and their land, and who work with the underlying nature of things”. Chris says that he and Sunita “thought it was important to support the people that produce our food in a sustainable way”. Twenty six years later and they’re still serving the people of Hammersmith with the same ethos.

The store is homely and the shelves are stacked with an impressive variety of high-end produce. Amazing Dijon mustard and beautifully produced chocolates sit alongside their sugar-free breakfast cereals. Bags of exotic dried fruits, rustic breads, and jars of delicious rainforest honey line up next to dairy products and a wide array of teas, coffees, lentils, split peas, fresh fruit and vegetables. Almost everything is organic, Fair Trade or both. It’s one of the few places I know where you can pick up the most obscure cooking ingredients and it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg.

Look around London and you’ll quickly realise that there’s fewer and fewer shops like Bushwacker Wholefoods. Large supermarket groups have actively sought to crowd out their smaller competitors. Concern is such that the Evening Standard is running a campaign to protect London’s small retailers and, as reported here, there is concern from Parliamentary Select Committees to influential think tanks about the future of the UK’s independently owned shops.

Chris says that they’re “lucky to have a loyal following of customers” but he recognises that H&F Council’s recent announcement of its plan to build a new supermarket at the top of King Street is “a concern”. He told me that he pays around £17,000.00 in business rates to H&F Council and a further £450.00 to the Hammersmith Business Improvement District but cannot see how either of those bodies have done anything to aid the small retailer. “I think they’re focused on big businesses”. He said. “I hope they prove me wrong”.

You can visit Bushwacker Wholefoods at 132 King Street, Hammersmith, London, W6 0QU. You can also phone them on 020 8748 2061.

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