The Allotment, New Cross Road

The Allotment is a new food shop next door to the New Cross House, New Cross Road. Ahead of its opening later this month, we spoke to Gill about her plans:

The main focus of the shop is to sell fresh fruit and vegetables.  As we'll be going to New Covent Garden Market regularly through the week, we can ensure the produce is as fresh as possible, as well as being seasonal.  

We'll also be selling bread, pastries and cakes from Flour Power City Bakery (based in New Cross); free range eggs from Kent farms; cut flowers; chutneys and preserves from local producers; fantastic ice cream from Simply Ice Cream, drinks and juices; cheeses and cured meats; bacon and sausages; fresh olives and antipasti; milk, cream and butter, as well as a range of store cupboard things like pasta, rice, flour, tea & coffee, pulses, tinned tomatoes, oils etc.  

We will be able to respond pretty much immediately to customers' requests, and not just for fresh produce - since our suppliers are mainly small local businesses, we are able to receive orders in a day or two.

I worked in the City for ten years doing admin, then left to start up a garden maintenance business, which I ran for seven years, but as my knees started to get a bit creaky I didn't think I could face many more winters working outside.  I had the idea to open a greengrocer's shop, walked down the road to see if there were any shops to let, and it all went from there.

It took almost a year to finalise the lease on the shop, which was really frustrating, but it gave me more time to research suppliers and increase the range of products we'll be offering.  

Since lease negotiations began, I got a new neighbour, in the form of the New Cross House, which opened in May.  I've spoken with Joe, the manager, a few times and I think our businesses complement each other well.  They offer fantastic food and service, and given that they're packed most evenings and weekends (including when Goldsmith’s was shut!), it's obvious that that's what local people want.

I've lived in New Cross for 15 years and during that time it’s changed a bit, but I wouldn’t want it to change in to East Dulwich, I love New Cross for the fact that there's such a mix of people who live here and some great local businesses. I love the New Cross House, though my heart lies in the Marquis of Granby.  Kismet has a brilliant selection of Turkish food, and Cafe Crema is great for music events.

I've been involved with the campaign against the Sainsburys Local, mainly because I'm fed up seeing endless branches of these supermarkets opening all over the place.  In Sainsbury's case I think it was a political move - if they didn't open the store then Tesco would have.  I think it will have an effect on local shops, particularly those selling the same brands as Sainsbury's, as they can't hope to compete on price.  

Having said that, I'm confident we can become a place where local residents and workers can buy a good percentage of their weekly shop and I think there is a general movement towards supporting independent shops and an appreciation of bespoke customer service.

I want The Allotment to be a place for everyone in New Cross (and anyone else who feels like making the trip).  The last thing I want is for it to be some exclusive, overpriced food store where it all looks pretty but you can't actually find things to make an entire meal from.  Some of the products are towards the higher end of the price bracket, but only because they taste great, and sometimes it's nice to have a few treats. I hope that Goldsmiths students will be an important part of the customer mix, but there are plenty of people who live around this area 12 months a year. Obviously when the college is open, the population swells, but I'm confident we can become a place where local residents and workers can buy a good percentage of their weekly shop.

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