The opening of any independent grocery store is something to be celebrated. Almost 4 years ago to the day I wrote about Leila's Shop in Spitalfields and said "every neighbourhood should have a shop like this". Back then, as much as I wanted to see it happen, it seemed a bit of a forlorn hope. The grip of the supermarkets was vice-like and becoming ever-more insidious as they moved into corner-shop territory with smaller neighbourhood stores. Now the big 3 are facing their own competition and shoppers are realising there are alternatives involving not only other multiples but small and local too.
Small independents are never going to be able to compete line-by-line with supermarkets on price, but that doesn't mean they can't have better prices on individual items. With good quality they can offer better value. They can also identify and form close personal relationships with local producers and specialist suppliers and this is the direction that General Store in Peckham has chosen. Actively seeking out the locally produced wherever possible, there's a commitment to supporting other small business allied with a commitment to quality and provenance.
|On the shelves|
at General Store
So, what is on the shelves? London produce includes sourdough Cafone loaves from Bridget Hugo's BreadBread bakery in Brixton; breads and pastries from Bermondsey-based The Little Bread Pedlar; Coffee from the Clerkenwell roastery of Workshop Coffee; fine British and French cheeses from Neal's Yard Dairy and Mons Cheesemongers, matured under railway arches in South London; jars of honey from Bermondsey's The London Honey Company; some of the best preserves in the capital from Lily O'Brien's Hackney-based London Borough of Jam; and bottled beers from Kernel Brewery who were at the vanguard of London's recent micro-brewery movement; and natural wines are now available from Gergovie Wines too. Then, there's a good range of Spanish foods from importer Brindisa; rice from The Real Basmati Rice Co; organic flours from Shipton Mill; chocolate from bean-to-bar makers Pump Street Bakery in Suffolk sit alongside bars from influential Mast Brothers of Brooklyn; and, always, a selection of top quality seasonal fruit and vegetables.
at General Store
Then there's the service. The young owners, Merlin and Genevieve, get the balance just right. If you're happy to browse, that's fine. If you want help or advice, it's knowledgeable, and friendly. Look out for their 'Meet the Supplier' events. As see from a flyer that in the run-up to Christmas you'll find Neal's Yard Dairy setting up table outside on 6th December, followed by Mons Cheesemongers on the 7th. Christmas orders can be placed up to the 15th December with specials like smoked salmon from Hansen & Lydersen's Stoke Newington smokery; Melrose & Morgan Christmas Puddings and Cakes; and special prices on wines and beers by the case.
Peckham is up-and-coming but still rough around the edges so perfect hunting ground for those looking for more bang for their buck property-wise. The General Store is a great addition to the Asian, African and Caribbean stores. Shops like Persepolis, bring A taste of Persia to Peckham. There is also traditional British butchers Flock and Herd. For more about food shops in Peckham, The Skint Foodie has a great list.
|Fruit & vegetables|
at General Store
Trying to compete directly with supermarkets is still a road to nowhere. Independent grocery stores are a different breed from what they used to be but, little by little, they are returning to a neighbourhood near you - grocers for the way we live now.
174 Bellenden Road
London SE15 4BW
Tel: 0207 642 2129