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.