I had entered the Farm Shop & Deli Awards back in September of last year and hadn’t really thought anymore about them. They commend retailers’ success in speciality food sectors and regions respectively. Awards were up for grabs across 11 different categories including specialist cheesemonger, which is (surprisingly) the category I entered us into.
Out of the blue in January I was visited by Nigel Barden, the chief judge. I talked him through our cheese counter explaining how we sourced our cheeses and the pride we take in our display. I also talked about the accompaniments that we sell and the local producers that we try to champion in the shop. It was therefore a big shock when Nigel unfurled a banner which said we had been shortlisted in our category and that he was there to judge the finalists. I was quite pleased that I hadn’t known he was judging the shop when he was quizzing me about how we did things!
Ali and I were then invited, along with all of the other shortlisted entrants, to the Farm Shop & Deli Show which is held each year at the NEC. The show is a key one for us as we go along and meet new suppliers as well as touch base with our existing ones but we had never stayed on for the awards ceremony before. It’s always nice to go along to these things and see who is doing what in the world of specialist retail and meet other people who are running businesses similar to ours.
We were completely gobsmacked when we were announced winners, not just of the Cheesemonger category but also of the regional winner across all sectors in the South East. I had to do an interview after the presentation but I don’t think they got very much out of me as I couldn’t stop smiling! It is such a huge accolade and we are both completely humbled to have won.
The shop is here because we have such wonderful customers and we are eternally grateful that we are so well supported.