New shop championing independent producers opens in BristolPosted on: 16 Jul 2021
'Food Shop' is only stocking products sourced from local independent producers.
Armed with over 20 years of experience in the hospitality sector in his native Australia and London, Darren Tooley, 45, moved west in 2019, taking over the small space formerly occupied by Wild Leaf on Overton Road in June 2021.
A carefully curated selection of products adorn the sparsely decorated room, with Bristol goods dominating the shelves, including kombucha and hot sauce from St Werburgh's, coffee roasted in Stokes Croft and craft beer brewed in St Phillips among other things.
The shop, just off Gloucester Road, isn't limited to non-perishables. 'Food Shop' also sells a range of fresh produce, such as milk from a local dairy, local butter and local cheeses.
The simplicity of the interior decor is not borne of a lack of imagination on Tooley's behalf, but a desire to let the high-quality products on offer take centre stage. "We want the food to be the star of the show", he says.
"We see ourselves as a local cornershop that champions and focuses on independent food makers. That's what is really key and important to us."
The idea for a small store that shines a spotlight on indie producers and the motivation to follow through with the concept came after a period of reflection in 2020, following the onset of Covid-19 related restrictions that ripped through the industry Tooley has dedicated his entire career to.
"Throughout lockdown, I re-evaluated my career and the work I was doing. I really love food and booze and consuming and talking about it. I also really love independent food makers. I thought that was the perfect way to get started."
So far, the gamble has paid off. In the short time Tooley has been trading, his store has proved to be immensely popular. Perhaps the initial success he has enjoyed can be traced to the ethos of 'Food Shop'; high-quality, locally sourced products at reasonable prices.
"People are really loving the angle of independent makers and people in Bristol really love products from Bristol. We're really blessed that there are a lot of independent food businesses in the west.
"Value is really important to us. We should be bringing the best possible food to people at the best possible price. I think that resonates with people. Good food doesn't have to be exclusively expensive.
"Let's keep our margins down so we can sell it at the best price."
Despite the success of 'Food Shop' so far, Tooley isn't content to simply stop seeking new opportunities for his store and is constantly testing new ideas.
A wine refill service will be introduced soon and Tooley is also talking to local vendors about starting some pop-up residencies.
George is a journalism graduate and writer passionate about music and culture. Get in touch via email at firstname.lastname@example.org