“Come and say hello so we don’t have to say goodbye”, posted The Little Green Larder on social media recently.
This Dundee sustainable shop’s plea was genuine.
The eco-friendly and zero-waste shops that we frequented during lockdown, when supermarkets were too busy and sold out anyway, seem to be getting quieter.
Some, like The Eco Larder in Edinburgh, have shut down already.
It seems our good intentions – to be greener, shop local and use less single-use plastic – have been fading fast.
The Little Green Larder’s owner, Jillian Elizabeth, opened the colourful Perth Road shop three years ago. It sells dried food, liquid refills and fresh groceries, as well as homeware and fashion.
They’ve gone from being “rushed off our feet” during lockdown, when they supported the community through deliveries and raised thousands of pounds for organisations including the local food bank, to being somewhat forgotten about. Although the owner is sanguine and adores her customers, she hopes that more of them will return, especially at a time when supermarkets like Tesco are being accused of greenwashing by Greenpeace.
Thankfully, The Little Green Larder’s Facebook message wasn’t ignored. It was shared over 300 times on that platform, she got nearly a thousand likes on Instagram and the shop became a bit busier.
“People were saying that they wanted to shop locally, but they’d just fallen back into the habit of going to a supermarket. And lots of them said that they were glad that they'd seen our posts,” she says. “We've had so many messages of support and loads of people doing online orders and coming back to the shop. You know, regulars that we maybe hadn't seen in a little while have been in multiple times. It’s been really, really great to see”.
Elizabeth is very understanding about customers’ reasons for not frequenting the shop over the last few months.
“It's not that we're angry at our customers for not coming in, as it's totally understandable. The rising living costs definitely haven’t helped, as everyone's on a bit of a budget,” she says. “I just think people are just struggling in general. You know, there's a huge mental health crisis right now, and I think they have just not been feeling up to going out”.
This shop owner's next step is to offer ten of their staples, like pasta, onions or rice, which they buy in bulk, and offer them at a lower price.
“We want sustainability to be accessible for everyone”, Elizabeth says.
They’re also throwing a bake sale on April 9, in order to support them in paying their overheads and to get people into the shop to see what they have on offer.
Hopefully, this difficult period will just be a blip.
“We're seeing how it goes month to month but the plan was always for this to be a long term thing,” she says. “So I'm just hoping that we can weather through and stay open for many more years”.
272 Perth Road, Dundee, www.thelittlegreenlarder.com