Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Big Shop - Week 2: Hyper Local

After last Saturday's enjoyable trip to Leeds Kirkgate Market for our big shop we could easily have decided to shop nowhere else for the duration of Lent.  What items we couldn't find on the market I know are available at other independents in the City Centre.  But shopping in town isn't an easy or accessible option for everybody.  We are lucky that Z works just outside of the centre, on Leeds' "South Bank"*, and we are even luckier that her place of employment has a car park that staff can access during the weekend.

That said, we don't drive into town that often.  We live half an hours walk away and our bus route is one of the better, more frequent ones that Leeds has to offer.  In the past when shopping on the market we have walked in and caught the bus home with our bags of groceries.  I realise that this too is a stretch for some, Beeston Road is steep and the bus prices have been going up.  But if you can't get into town and transport is an issue, where do you shop?

For most Beestonites the first option for something resembling a "big shop" is the Co-op.  It's local, it's convenient, its range of food, drink and cleaning products is large enough.  But it is a Supermarket**, so for us it is out of bounds even for a few bits.  Further along Old Lane is a small ASDA.  Small or not this is right out of the question, you don't get more supermarkety than one of the big four, even in "Express" format.

Yet in amongst the dense Victorian houses of LS11 there are still some small, local, independant food shops.  The cornershops of the Open All Hours variety do still exist, there are butchers, bakers and greengrocers.  So with these shops in mind we set off with our trusty list to see how we would get on.

The first stop was McDonnell's Butchers on Beeston Road.  The only meat on the shopping list was sausages for Toad in the Hole on Sunday but I also picked up some pork pies for our lunch.  We then miandered through Beeston heading towards Dewsbury Road, where we hoped we would be able to get the bulk of our purchases.

The first shop we got to was Kasa's, a local chain of convenience stores**.  Here we managed to get a few bits and bobs; pop, squash, milk, but nothing to write home about.  The next stop was much more successful.  J & D Marsay on Dewsbury road is a blast from the past.  A greengrocer and florist in a world where people struggle to eat their five-a-day and only buy flowers from petrol stations.  I'd been to Marsay's before, but Z didn't even know it was there and we have lived here since 1999.

The bulk of our weekly shop is fresh fruit and vegetables so we filled our boots and had a chat.  Turns out there used to be three members of staff that worked on Saturdays but the shop hasn't been busy enough to justify that for years.  The blame, without any prompting from me, was laid at the doors of the supermarkets.  That, coupled with the fact that most of their old regular customers are, well, old, means they aren't getting the footfall that they used to.

With R's buggy starting to tip backwards under the weight of the carrier bags*** we ploughed on.  A new Polish supermarket** next door to Marsey's provided olive oil, ham and orange juice.  The promise of fresh bread was dashed as the bakery we went to has closed down, as has the Dewsbury Road branch of Gregg's!

Our final stop was at Barkat Continental Foods on Roland Road.  Barkat is our go to for herbs and spices as I can get there easily in my lunch break, but this time we bought toothpaste and shampoo along with a shopping basket full of chilled and dry goods.

Two hours later we were foot tired and very hungry so we yomped back up Beeston Hill to survey our wares and see what was still missing from our list.  Once we'd unpacked, the missing items were obvious.  We were so busy chatting in the greengrocers that we didn't get enough fruit for the week, so a top up shop is in order.  The other item missing was toilet roll.  We did have opportunities to buy some but we aren't desperate enough to use non-recycled loo roll just yet.  I guess our ethics are still working even if our local shops aren't quite living up to them.

*I am not a fan of the current trend for calling anything and everything south of the river Aire the "South Bank".
**What is a supermarket?
***all our own.

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