♦ By Stephanie Bateman Sweet ♦
It’s always a joy to come across a neighbourhood grocery store selling seasonal, local, and artisan specialities, and owned by shopkeepers with a passion for the provenance of their produce. General Store in Peckham, South London, ticks all those boxes and some. The delightful owners, Merlin and Genevieve, seemed to have fallen into the role of ‘shopkeepers’ without it being part of their initial grand plan. “We were looking to move into this area and wanted a business we could create together. When the landlord showed us the flat with a shop below it, the butcher, Flock & Herd, had just opened across the road, and they had a similar ethos to what we thought we might be able to create…so the General Store was born. The cluster of independent cafés, restaurants and shops in the street, many opened by first-time business owners, has a lovely ‘villagey’ feel to it, which is always a bonus for urban, city dwellers who are looking for a strong sense of community where they live.
The store stocks a comprehensive range of daily staples, along with artisanal cheeses, locally brewed ales, fresh coffee, wine, and seasonal fresh fruit and vegetables, beautifully displayed in white enamel bowls. “We work with some great producers and suppliers, many of whom supply restaurants, and like us, they are passionate about quality and provenance.” The interior design of the shop has a traditional and utilitarian vibe to it, with vintage metal trollies, enamel lampshades, old wooden display stands and birch plywood shelves. You do get the feeling when you are in the shop that it is more than just a place to purchase your daily bread and pint of milk. Equipped with a coffee machine and the requisite wooden benches outside, Merlin and Genevieve want this to be a place their customers can pop in, browse, and sit and chat at their leisure. What this entrepreneurial duo have definitely created for their loyal supporters, is an awareness of the importance of shopping seasonally, locally and with integrity for where their food actually comes from.
174 Bellenden Road, Peckham
Shopkeeper photo courtesy Anna + Tam