Organic expansion brings independent eco grocer to Portishead 

Portishead’s community has long appreciated its high street and the many attractions it offers, which range from a friendly vibe and plenty of independent shops to a flat routeway that’s easy on the feet.

And it was these draws, together with others, such as the town’s demographics and location, that caught Andrew Quinlan’s eye when deciding where to open a second branch of Earthfare, the independent, family-run eco grocer in Glastonbury he owns and runs with his son and business partner, Henry.

“We were looking for towns that stood out for all the right reasons and Portishead definitely fitted the bill,” Andrew explained. “We liked its vibrant high street, the support it receives from the community and the fact that it’s a growing town. Then, when we saw the lovely property that had become available, our minds were made up.”

Fast forward to Summer 2021 and Earthfare Portishead is now the latest addition to the town, having opened its doors amidst great excitement on August 4, with a focus on organic produce. Located at 19 High Street, the shop is housed inside a delightful building that was previously home to a branch of Lloyds Pharmacy and dates back to 1891. In the spirit of championing sustainability, Andrew has made it a point to retain Lloyd’s floor and ceilings, while its shelves, in keeping with Earthfare’s philosophy of reuse and repurpose whenever possible, are mostly second-hand.

When it comes to what’s on those shelves, the Portishead shop is following in the footsteps of its Glastonbury sister store, which has built up a reputation over the years as the go-to meat-free destination for great value, organic, ethical and local produce, with sustainability and convenience at its core. Visitors to Earthfare Portishead will find a similar, superb selection of produce, including an extensive range of organic fruit and veg, eggs, artisan breads and cheeses, herbs and spices, oils and vinegar, alongside plenty of plant-based milk options and larder staples, such as herbal teas, coffees, tinned tomatoes, wholefoods, rice, grains, pulses and pasta, with gluten-free options available.

Other, more indulgent offerings include tasty flapjacks and a selection of deliciously indulgent, Fairtrade chocolate, with both raw and dairy-free varieties among those stocked. These tasty treats pair perfectly with Earthfare’s impressive range of organic, vegan wine, including sulphur-free and biodynamic options. Other attractive tipples set to be stocked include cider from the local brand Ganley & Naish and Pier Gin, which Andrew has decided to offer in keeping with Earthfare’s philosophy of stocking local produce and asking residents what they’d like to find on the shop’s shelves. “We’ve always made it a point to support local producers when possible,” he said. “We’re stocking honey from the Waggle and Hum Honey Farm in Clevedon, for example, while our mushrooms already came from there, and our fresh milk from Somerset. We’re also keen to find more local suppliers.”

Other items available include a variety of natural vitamins and supplements, together with a delightful range of skin and body care, eco-friendly glitter, makeup, aromatherapy and oils, candles, incense, salt lamps and gifts.

Andrew acknowledged that there can be challenges for eco-grocers when it comes to finding a balance between running a business and maintaining a commitment to protecting the planet. “Some solutions are straightforward, such as using green energy, ensuring nothing goes to landfill and championing compostable packaging, for example,” he said. “But one of my favourite sayings is that we should never settle for the status quo – there’s always more that can be done.” 

Andrew gives the example of the team’s decision to install refill water fountains free of charge at both stores. “We know some people would see that as lost sales, but doing our best for the planet is at the heart of what we believe in and if the fountain has helped to reduce sales of plastic water bottles, then it’s worth it,” he said. Earthfare also supports two local charities in Glastonbury and plans to do the same in Portishead.

On the subject of balancing acts, Andrew is upbeat about operating alongside other providers. “We see the market as a rich tapestry in which everyone has their part to play,” he said. “We know we offer great value, quality and choice when it comes to organic produce, but we’re firm believers in letting people try us out and make up their own minds.” 

Earthfare is operating a Reward Card programme that enables customers to collect points to spend in store. Two open days are planned for September 9 and 10 when visitors will have an opportunity to meet the Earthfare team and its suppliers. Keep up to date with what’s happening on Instagram @earthfare_portishead, Facebook at EarthfarePortishead and by visiting their website at www.earthfare.co.uk.