Anyone who has ever subscribed to an organic veg box will know exactly what I’m talking about – you look forward to your delivery, you unpack your fresh, beautiful produce, you store it in your kitchen… and then? You’re not quite sure what to do with it. We’ve recently started receiving organic veg boxes again, something we had done previously but stopped after it became unfeasible for us. Now that Isla is being weaned, however, it’s really important to us that the majority of her first foods are organic fruits and vegetables, and the easiest way to source those for us is a veg box scheme. [ Read More… ] …
Edit – Since writing this post, Utopi-ish have renamed themselves to Purple Carrot.
Early this year, Liverpool’s expanding vegan scene saw something really exciting happen: Utopi-ish, the city’s very first all-vegan shop, opened its doors. Not many cities have vegan grocery stores yet, and Liverpool is fast moving to the forefront of vegan-friendly cities in the UK. In fact, the shop has been such a success that it won VegFest’s Best Vegan Shop award within less than a year of opening! I asked Danielle, the owner, a few questions about what it’s like to be a vegan shop-owner on Smithdown Road!
Where did the initial idea for Utopi-ish come from?
Really, it came from the start of our vegan journey. One night, we were having meat for dinner, then we watched some of the documentaries on Netflix and effectively turned vegan overnight. The shop came out of the desire to do something that I’m passionate about for the rest of my life, something that has a community focus. There was only about a year between turning vegan and opening the shop.
How did the process from the initial idea to the opening work?
We had been saving for a while and were planning to go to South America. But there was a feeling of wanting to do something more long-term, something more sustainable. It was an organic process, and once we found the shop premises, it all went very quickly!
At this stage, a customer comes to the till to pay. We tell her that I’m working on a blog post about the shop. “It’s MARVELLOUS”, she exclaims. I’d have to agree.
How have you developed in the time between the opening and today?
Social Media really helped. We haven’t done any paid advertising yet, but that’s something we’re looking into. Our events are also really taking off and helping us to build a solid network!
What are the biggest challenges you have faced as a vegan shop in Liverpool?
Suppliers – there are only a few wholesalers to comply with the ethics we’re looking for and source produce as locally as possible. Then there’s the problem with many otherwise perfectly suitable products containing unnecessary honey, meaning we can’t sell them. Finances are also a challenge. You can’t grow as fast as you want to.
I’m sure you’ll all join me in wishing Utopi-ish all the growth and prosperity they could hope for in the future. It really is a lovely shop, and I try to do as much of my shopping as I can with them. Some big changes are coming up for the shop as it goes from strength to strength, including a planned name change, so watch this space! They also run some great events that are worth looking out for! You can find their facebook page here [link]. If you want to drop by, which I recommend you do, they can be found at 286 Smithdown Road, Liverpool, L15 5AJ.
While there seems to have been an increase in wholefoods available in stores, I still often have difficulty getting specific ingredients, and often they’re quite expensive. Since I don’t live anywhere near a Wholefoods, my go-to online shop has become the Edinburgh-based Realfoods. They sell many a vegan staple, including the ever-elusive Vital Wheat Gluten, have incredibly good customer service and sell at prices that are often very affordable. [ Read More… ] …
Last Saturday, Liverpool’s St. George’s Hall played host to the Live A Better Life, or LABL fair. It was a great event, showcasing vegan products & organisations from all over the country, including but not limited to Vegan Runners UK, Greenpeace and Sea Shepherd. This was amusing, we walked past a woman openly being rude to Greenpeace members purely because she supports Sea Shepherd. I don’t believe this behaviour is representative of either charity, but a quick google search will tell you more about the background. Either way, I hate it when random people think they have the authority to introduce rivalry and bad vibes to an event that is attended purely by people with a common cause. Fuck off and feel superior in your own four walls. [ Read More… ] …