The Green Grocer has long been nestled amongst the hustle and bustle of Boundary Street at West End watching shops, cars and people come and go as time meanders along.
Although no longer the traditional green grocer it once was, the store is staying true to its roots, but as a health shop instead. Before morphing into a health shop, the ailing green grocer was an independent store pre-dating the vast and all too common supermarkets we come to expect nowadays, selling fresh local produce — a staple of West End’s high street.
Manager of the current store, James Tod, bought the store in July 1996 from the previous owners, who also owned an organic farm where much of the produce for the old store came. With the old green grocer business floundering, James applied for a managerial role as it limped along on its last legs. He hoped his experience with farm produce and herbal medicine could help. James was never given the role, and saw the old green grocer close its door, so instead he decided to buy the shop. “I was just better able to manage the concept,” James explained, still at the helm of the 18-year old shop. “I was destined to own this store,” he added.
James, now in his mid fifties, has an air of the old times and a certain casualness about him; a jazz piano enthusiast, he has also been around West End’s music scene before. His persona is carried through the store, very much in keeping with the traditional shop styling, and as far from the modern chain store aesthetically as possible. “The old style health shop is what I like; it’s keeping to its history,” James states, straight to the point. There is nothing superfluous about James, or the shop, both staying true to themselves with minimal fuss. “We wear our heart on our sleeve — we are who we are,” James tells. “We don’t want to be part of many trends, unless we’re sure they’ll stick.”
Having been around as a health shop for almost two decades now, the Green Grocer has become an integral part of the West End community, James believes. “West End needs a whole food store; it suits the political orientation of the West End. We fill the natural demand that exists in the area. It’s like being part of a large family. We’ve been here a while; with the West End family about, it’s kept me here.” This relationship with the community pays homage to the old way of doing business, as with many of the other stores in West End. “What makes people feel good is so massively important,” James explains. “It’s up to the customer to keep me going. It’s quite organic — I like that.”
Organic by produce and by business, the Green Grocer delivers in charm and honesty, staying true to its unpretentious self — a health shop striving to keep up the health of the traditional shopping experience.
Words by Keagan Elder | Images by Stayc Connolly