Hundreds of Welsh businesses have been forced to diversify during the pandemic, especially those in the hospitality industry.
For Treorchy’s The Lion, what was a temporary move to sell fresh fruit and veg on a stall outside the pub has now turned into the goal of opening a permanent, zero-waste shop on the high street.
Green Valley, which will open at the former location of Cherie & Co salon on Bute Street, will, of course, sell fruit and veg but will also stock plastic-free products in a bid to bring sustainable shopping to the upper Rhondda.
The shop, which is due to open its doors in May, will also stock fresh bread, coffee and honey – all made as locally as possible.
Initially, landlord Adrian Emmett – or rather his wife Rhiannon – saw that there was both a gap in the market for a fruit and veg stall on the main shopping street through Treorchy, which is still the holder of the title Great British High Street of the Year, and during the firebreak lockdown last autumn started selling fresh produce to local shoppers.
With the pub shut since the weekend before Christmas, the fruit and veg stall has been a popular addition to the high street and the team has been outside selling to customers, whatever the weather.
Adrian said: “I signed for the shop and had the keys on the 15th and are looking to open the business in May when we hope restrictions slightly ease, and it’ll give us some time to renovate the shop as well then.
“I’ve run the Lion for just under 10 years now and we’ve always positioned the business at the heart of the community and when we were closed down during the firebreak we still wanted to be of value to the community but also to create income for our small business.
“It was my wife’s idea to open the shop as we haven’t had one for four years and it has been sorely missed in the town.
“She’ll kill me, but since we’ve been together my nickname for her has been Peggy Mitchell, but since the stall has been there, it’s been Peggy Plums – but we went with Green Valley in the end,” Adrian laughed.
Rhiannon added: “The stall was extremely busy over Christmas and delivered almost 100 veg boxes and this just highlighted the need.
“Every day at the stall we were getting customers thankful for getting fresh fruit and veg locally. And people liked being able to buy what they need, sometimes people don’t want a pack of six apples. The older generation appreciated that aspect.”
As with the stall, Adrian added that his supplier Richard Lewis, who is also a valleys-based businessman, will supply the shop. The feedback from customers at the stall has mainly been ‘are you carrying on selling fruit and veg’ when the pandemic is over, said the landlord.
“From a local point of view we want to create local supply chains as well, if you have an allotment with products they want to sell, they might not have a route to market. We are looking at sourcing as locally as possible.”
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And like other zero-waste shops, Green Valley will also have the bulk dispensers installed where customers will have their own reusable containers to fill with however much pasta/cereal/flour they need.
Green Valley is also arranging, when it’s possible, to work with local schools teaching pupils about sustainability.
“Treorchy high street became the Champion High Street because of the partnerships that we have built, and I’m looking to have the same ethos with the shop and bringing people together.”