The hub of the community
Our community shop has provided an essential service to Bryher residents, day trippers and holiday makers alike since it was opened back in 2011.
Who are we and how did we come to live on Bryher?
Our names are Aaron and Mark; we own and run Bryher Shop and are full-time residents of the community here. But it hasn’t always been that way – in fact, it seems like only yesterday that we were living and working in London! Life here on the island a relatively new venture in our lives – as is owning a shop – and as you might expect, it’s one that’s been a rollercoaster of learning, excitement and emotion.
The whole thing started when we first met. As we got to know one another, we were surprised to find out that we both knew the islands and that we’d both grown up coming here on holiday with our families. We both had amazing memories of the place, and when it came to 2016 and our search for a summer camping holiday, there was really no other choice. We ended up booking 10 days’ camping on St Mary’s and Bryher, and it was during that trip that our long journey to life on Scilly really started.
That summer camping trip was everything we thought it would be. It would another two full
years until we came across the ad on Facebook. It was after a long day at work in the city, winding down and scrolling through our social feeds, that we noticed a post on the Bryher Campsite Facebook page. It said that the owner of the shop was putting it up for sale, and whilst we weren’t immediately ‘sold’ on the idea, it was enough get us thinking: could moving to Scilly be an option?
At the time, we were living in south-east London and we both had jobs that we enjoyed. We
spent our time taking advantage of everything that London had to offer, and if we’re honest, we weren’t really looking to leave. But just as beautiful trees grow from tiny acorns, so our vision of a life in Scilly bloomed in our minds. Seeded by that single serendipitous post, it didn’t take long for possibility to become probability, and before we knew it, we were seriously considering buying the shop as a new direction for our lives…
Acclimatising to island life
…and so, here we are!
We’ll be honest, it has taken a while to get used to things here. For example, it’s amazing how accustomed you get to having things delivered the very next day over on the mainland. It takes a little (sometimes a lot) longer for things to arrive on Bryher than we were used to in London, but it’s made us realise just how much we tend to take for granted. More than that, there’s much to be said for not being surrounded by so much unnecessary ‘stuff’!
As you might expect, we miss our families and friends dearly, but since arriving here, we’ve found that being able to get in the water when we want, to enjoy the peace and quiet, and escape the traffic, advertising and crime rates that come with life in the city, is a change of pace that we never knew how much we needed.
A shop for the community
Bryher Shop and post office provide a year-round service to the island, and in the winter, it’s one of the few places where people can bump into each other and catch-up. Being here for those encounters, chatting with the locals, and being the friendly faces behind the counter of the local store has helped us to settle nicely into the community here. And we must say, the residents have been incredibly welcoming.
The shop lies at the heart of the community – not only physically, but by virtue of the services it provides. They are crucial to the residents here, which is what makes it so important that visitors continue to shop with us. The money that’s spent here during the season enables us to keep the shop and post office open all year round. This, in turn, means we’re able to support local businesses and employ staff; it means we have money for ourselves, too, which in turn is spent with other local businesses.
Without the shop, residents would have to travel to St Mary’s on the weekly shopping boat, and if you’ve spent time here in the winter, you’ll know that the weather doesn’t always make that journey possible!
What can you find in-store?
We source our stock, as much as possible, from independent local suppliers. We’re proud to do so because, like ours, most of these businesses are family run and are facing the same challenges. One such challenge is competing with the larger national and international companies who have the buying power to drive prices down.
Unfortunately, there’s no hiding the fact that products from our shop do cost slightly more than at a mainland supermarket, but there’s no way around it. Our freight costs alone – transporting goods to the island – account for our single largest monthly expense, such is the joy of running an island business! But supporting local businesses like ours by spending a little more is important, especially in the current economic climate. Our shop is a hub of the community, and it
provides services to residents here year-round that would otherwise be unavailable. What’s more, we believe that our producers deserve a fair price for their products, so it’s a price that we need to be able to pay. That, combined with the cost of running a small business on a remote island, makes competing with those larger companies a challenge.
Fortunately, we continue to see support from both residents and visitors alike, and it’s fantastic to see shoppers who recognise the value in such quality local products. There has been a shift in recent years as shoppers seek better quality produce, valuing the provenance of food over a few pennies on the price tag, and that’s precisely the approach we take to the goods that we stock. In fact, whilst our products may cost a little more, when you consider the quality and the provenance of the goods in your basket, and the community you’re supporting by shopping with us, we firmly believe that it’s money well spent.
Our suppliers and producers
We are proud to work with producers and suppliers not only from here on Scilly, but from
around Cornwall, too. From the Isles of Scilly, we work with Scilly Chilli, Veronica Farm Fudge, Westward Farm, SC Dogs rum, and the dairy farmers at Troy Town.
Over on the mainland, we have a wealth of suppliers. Our meat comes from R J Trevartens, who supply Cornish meat from Cornish farms, whilst our dairy comes from Mount’s Bay Dairy and Rodda’s. Our fruit and veg comes from the oldest and largest specialist wholesaler of fresh produce in the south west, West Country, and our breads come from the artisans over at Baker Tom’s. We also source pasties from the Brian Etherington Meat Company, and to wash it all down, we have a selection of reds and whites from the enthusiastic merchants at Experience Wine.