Local multi-coloured veg

Source: GettyImages_Credit fotosipsak

Joshua James portrait_Convenience Store

Joshua James, Fresh & Proper Fordham, Norfolk

Fresh & Proper is a Together With Morrisons store, stocking the supermarket’s own brand line, as well as championing local produce. 



Trudy Davies profile pic

Trudy Davies, Woosnam and Davies News, Llanidloes, Wales

Regular social media posts and in-store signage ensure Trudy’s customers know she is a supporter of all things local.




Martin Lightfoot, Londis Solo Convenience, Baillieston, Glasgow

Martin and partner Natalie are always on the look out for new trends and products that could be a hit with their customers.



Simon Biddle outside store

Simon Biddle, Biddles, Redditch, Worcestershire 

By speaking to his fellow local retailers, Simon is able to gain recommendations of local suppliers and learn about new producers.

 Why is it important to stock local produce?

Trudy: It sets us apart from supermarkets and gives us a point of difference because local businesses can come through the door and they’re not going to see ‘most popular item’ etc, they’re going to also see other small/local businesses.

Simon: It’s important because if you deal with someone local and more personal, you get better service. If you run out of something, you can sort it straight away compared to the bigger companies who we all use, you have to wait two to four days for your next delivery and that can mean you have two days where you haven’t got something fresh you want in there, so I think that’s a massive plus.

Joshua: It’s a nice differentiation from other corporate stores. It’s also a good integration into the community and I think it’s nice for people to see you’re trying to work with other local businesses.

Martin: It gives you a point of difference and encourages customer loyalty if you are stocking local products. You also get a bit more access to smaller local products, it does well. 

What is your approach to local sourcing?

Trudy: I have always tried to involve people in my local community. This is not only more sustainable as it involves less mileage, but it also supports small businesses around us. After all, these businesses are the ones that support us by using our services as a local business. You’ve got to get out there and see new products and go and visit other stores in other town, see what they’re doing, and you’ll find great inspiration. 

Simon: We try and source everything locally within reason, including meats, cheese, and any small suppliers. There’s a local farm shop which is about three or four miles away and it’s not direct competition. He recommends local suppliers to me and vice versa. It’s also a bit of word of mouth and just seeing what fits your store.

Joshua: A lot of it now is social media based or worth of mouth. We put a post out saying that we’re looking for more local sourcing and we get feedback from people and other people suggesting other local companies to work with. It’s also through our existing suppliers who are an integral part of the community. For instance, we had a local flower supplier who, as soon as we stocked his products in the store, attracted more local suppliers, purely based on his recommendation. 

Martin: This local couple from Wishaw have made their own chicken marinade. One of the girls in here spotted it and then we got in contact with them about stocking it. We’re now selling thirty to forty jars of it a day. We’re quite established now so we do try and keep an ear to the ground and see what’s out there and if there are things that people are after. 

Woosnam & Davies Eggs

Have you noticed any changes in customer preferences or increased demand for locally sourced products?

Joshua: Definitely. Since we started promoting it more actively, we have noticed a shift in the type of customers we attract. People who would typically shop at a farm shop or go out of their way to find locally sourced products are now coming to our store and are really please with it. They are even suggesting new products that we should stock.

Trudy: Yes, I have, especially products that are more sustainable.

Simon: What we’ve noticed is that everyone loves all our cooked meats and bacon etc, from a place only about six miles away. People come in because they know we’ve got good bacon, good ham, turkey and beef etc and I think that’s definitely a point of difference to sourcing locally.

Martin: If we consistently hear what people are after we will try and get it in for people.


Biddles prides itself on local produce

How do you choose which products are suitable for local sourcing?

Martin: It’s about word of mouth and how many people are talking about it, as well margins and everything you can make as well. It’s also about accessibility because you don’t want to get it in once and then never get it back. You want to make sure you can get hold of it enough to keep the buzz.

Trudy: I look at it as an opportunity to give products a chance to sell. If a product isn’t selling well, I don’t necessarily give up on them, but instead, I remove it from the shelves temporarily and give them another chance. It may have been the wrong season or time of year. I also try moving the product around to different areas of the store, as it may sell well in one section but not in the other.

Joshua: If the product is poorly packaged, its not going to be able to fight for its place in the show. Being a convenience store, everything needs to fight for space on the shelf, so the biggest thing for us is packaging and quality.

Simon: We try and trial products and we ask for customer feedback. For example, we’ve tried two or three sausages which are all locally produced and we ask the customers what their feedback is on them and which they think are the best.

How do you communicate to customers that your store supports local sourcing?

Trudy: Social media without a doubt. Most of my demographic use Facebook and this is where I showcase my products. I use hashtags such as ‘shop local’, ‘less miles’ and ‘sustainability’ and this conveys my business ethos. Over the years I have built up that USP. I also use Instagram a little and I am also starting off on TikTok too. I am one of these people who is not afriad to try and use new things and if it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work, and you just move on. If you write genuine posts on your social media about suppliers and their products, then they also know you’re a genuine person. 

Joshua: We have quite a lot of posts around the store and we say how many miles the products have travelled to get to the store.

Simon: We use Facebook and we do put our own label on the products with the ingredients on. It comes in prepacked, but we put our own label on it so people know that it’s ours and it’s special to us.

Martin: Our Facebook page, which has about 5000 people. We put a post up and then within a few hours of selling that product you see customers coming in to see it. 

What are some of the benefits you see in sourcing products locally?

Martin: It benefits us as a community store because our customers know we are not just trying to source from generic brands but local ones as well.

Trudy: The more you can have local stuff in your store the better. I believe that having local products or businesses in our store supports them, as they may not have a physical storefront or a high street location and can showcase their products on our shelves.

Joshua: The feedback is brilliant. 

Simon: The benefit is more frequent deliveries and a more personal service.

What are the challenges of sourcing products locally?

Martin: The challenge can be making sure you know what you are after and then making sure you’re selling it and putting it in the right location. We have been facing a challenge with products that have a short shelf life. Some of the meal preps we sell have only three days of shelf life. If we are unable to sell them within that time frame, we are left with the product, and that can cause us to lose our entire margin.

Simon: The only challenge I’ve faced is losing local suppliers. I have lost a baker recently and that’s one thing I haven’t filed space for yet as there isn’t anyone else that can supply me locally. I am using another baker, but it is a bit further afield.

Trudy: A challenge I have found is that some small business or little startups don’t have the confidence to come in as ask if you would stock their products. It’s like they  almost don’t think their products are worthy enough somehow. 

Joshua: We often trial new products, and the challenge is that if a product doesn’t go very well, it can be quite hard to let a local business down and say that it isn’t working for us.

Are there any specific criteria or standards that you expect from local suppliers?

Trudy: It has to be fresh and it’s got to be up to date with legislation because we can get into trouble. In the past I have helped people  when they’ve started up and they’re not quite sure. 

Martin: Yes we have specific standards that include consistency, long-lasting freshness and prolonged shelf life. We have had a problem with freshness once after a local supplier got bigger and bigger and the standards dropped.

Joshua: As high quality as possible with good shelf life.

Simon: We want the best quality products or goods. We’ve had the odd issue with quality and freshness. But the good thing about working with a smaller local company, is that if you have a small issue, they will rectify it straight away. So that’s another plus and benefit for sourcing as locally as you can

What advice would you have for other retailers looking to stock more locally sourced products? 

Joshua: Do as much research as you can because a lot of these companies don’t really push on social media. Ask your customers what they recommend, and they will be pleased to know that they help in some way. Word of mouth at the beginning will make sure you do get as local as possible because we’re finding products through friends and family that are recommending it, rather than social media or website preferences. 

Martin: Be aware of what other people are selling and look on social media. Listen to what your customers are saying and be open to trying new things. Just be on the ball because it does make a difference.

Trudy: Put posters up in your windows, community spaces, town hall and cafes. It’s surprising what will come from that. Also, visit local markets, events and fates. It also helps being members of associations and federations because they can inform you of what’s on trend, what’s coming out and what hopefully will be the next thing to get and stay relevant.

Simon: Go around local farm shops or go round different places near to you or even search on the Internet ‘local cheeses’, ‘local butchers’ or ‘local bakers’. Just have a search around. It’s a matter of approaching people and finding something that fits for you and when you do the best thing you can do is advertise that local supplier or brand.