Chichester drive-through food shop flourishes in changing times for retail

A new food shopping experience in Chichester – born out of the coronavirus pandemic – has enjoyed a hugely successful first month of trading.

Monday, 1st June 2020, 12:00 pm
Emma Schwarz

The Barn Little London is the sister company of The Rare Brand Market Ltd and has also been created through the newly-relaunched Slow Food Sussex organisation.

It offers a central Chichester drive-through food collection service to help local producers weather the lockdown – and also to bring proper locally-sourced quality food to consumers.

It now looks like it is here to stay in a world where shopping habits have almost certainly been permanently changed...

And changed for the better, says Emma Schwarz, the driving force behind the new initiative.

Emma is delighted with the impact The Barn Little London has had so far.

“We have been dealing with between 30 and 60 customers a week, and of those around 25 per cent are repeat customers, a core group of customers who are regularly shopping with us, which is great. The whole thing has been very well received.

“The main thing has been about celebrating local food, the fact that it is rare (ie not mass produced in a supermarket) and about making it accessible. All you need to do is just click, click, click from home and it is a great chance to get great food all in one place from farm shops, from local producers, and all the transaction has been done remotely online. You just turn up to collect the food. It is like a click and collect system, and that is one of the attractions.”

Another key attraction is the fact that it is supporting local food waste charity UKHarvest. A ten per cent handling charge is added to people’s bills. The surcharge goes directly to the charity. Emma’s hope is that it will pay the salary of one of their drivers every month as they distribute food to food banks, the vulnerable and the homeless.

If you order anytime on a Thursday, Friday, Saturday or Sunday you can collect your order between 9am and 11am on a Wednesday from The Barn, Little London, Chichester PO19 1PL. If you order anytime on a Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday you can collect on a Saturday between 9am and 11am. Full details of how it all works are available on https://thebarnlittlelondon.com“This is a way of shopping that should have been happening anyway, and it was actually starting to happen, but what the whole COVID era has done is actually catapult it. We have been made to feel vulnerable in this situation. We have had to look at our local commerce more. We would go to the supermarkets and what we would need has been out of stock. The fact that they have been running out of yeast and flour and so on just demonstrates that the sustainability of supermarkets is just not there. But here you can find good quality produce, organic produce, jam that hasn’t been mass produced.”

Emma accepts it is inevitably more expensive: “There is no getting away from that. But you have got to think ‘Am I going to spend 50 pence on a mass-produced sugar-saturated jar of jam from a supermarket or am I going to spent £2.50 on something that has been totally sustainably produced by hand and where you can actually taste the fruit?’ You have got to look at your shopping basket and think what you need and ask yourself ‘How am I going to invest my money?’”

Emma is convinced shopping will have changed: “I think clothing will bounce right back, back to where it was, back to seasonal fashions, but I do think food shopping will have changed. And it absolutely needs to. You go into supermarkets and you are just a little spoke in the wheel. But with us, our service is incredibly personal. From the moment you have clicked and placed your order, it is absolutely personal to you.

“The Barn, Little London, PO19 1PL, is right in the centre of Chichester down a quiet road, opposite the M&S Food East Street car park entrance. You can pull up in your car and we can literally put the shopping in your car boot as you drive through.

Emma is the new chairman of Slow Food Sussex, a position she is sharing with Yvonne Thomson, of UKHarvest – and the whole initiative builds on the Slow Food movement.

As Emma explains, Slow Food is a global, grassroots food movement with thousands of members around the world in more than 150 countries. It links the pleasure of food with a commitment to community and the environment.

The movement was founded in 1989 in Italy by Carlo Petrini as a response to the first McDonald’s opening in Rome.

Slow Food in the UK is part of the global Slow Food movement and actively campaigns for a better food system for all. Slow Food works to raise awareness about the sustainability and social justice issues surrounding the food we eat.

“It is about trying to get people to appreciate what they are putting in their meals, the type of food, the quality of the food and also separating local food that is sustainable, food that is good for your health and also good for the local environment.”

*************

A message from the Editor, Gary Shipton:

In order for us to continue to provide high quality and trusted local news, I am asking you to please purchase a copy of our newspapers.

With the coronavirus lockdown having a major impact on many of our local valued advertisers - and consequently the advertising that we receive - we are more reliant than ever on you helping us to provide you with news and information by buying a copy of our newspapers.

Our journalists are highly trained and our content is independently regulated by IPSO to some of the most rigorous standards in the world. But being your eyes and ears comes at a price. So we need your support more than ever to buy our newspapers during this crisis.

Stay safe, and best wishes.

Gary Shipton

Editorial Director