When I wrote the blog ‘Quality not quantity‘ back in May, I knew I was writing about a business which stood out from the crowd. It is obvious to anyone who is remotely interested in food and local produce that the Real Food Store is far from your average shop.
Now, the effort and ethics of this impressive community-grown company have been formally recognised – they have been shortlisted in the Best Local Retailer category of the 13th BBC Food and Farming Awards. Beating off stiff competition from over 900 other nominations, the Real Food Store is up against two other retailers from across the country: Cross Lanes Organic Farm Shop in Barnard Castle and Eurospar, Dolgellau, north Wales.
Both very different stores, the latter is perhaps on first thought, a surprise entry for this kind of award, but when you look closer it is obvious that although it has the branding of a national chain, it shares the same ethos as the Real Food Store: to serve the local community. Cross Lanes has its own story to tell too, with a strong emphasis on operating in an eco-friendly way, and future plans to make the business into an educational facility to inspire school children, businesses and members of the public. It’s fair to say the Exeter shop and cafe has some tough competition.
In their latest newsletter, Real Food said about the shortlisting: “It’s a fantastic opportunity for us to put the Real Food Store and Exeter on the national map for its quality local and seasonal food, community foundations and value in the city centre.”
The award winners will be announced in a ceremony on 28th November, as part of the BBC Good Food Show in Birmingham. So will the Paris Street premises, which began life as a community benefit society in 2009, bring the Best Local Retailer award back to Devon? I certainly hope so.