When the holidays roll around, you might be tempted to jump online, make a few quick clicks, select the standard shipping, and choose the generic gift wrap for Auntie Claire. It’s quick, it’s easy…and completely devoid of any forethought or sentiment. Yet it’s fun to shop in the neighbourhood where all the store owners know your name and greet you with a smile.
When it comes to the holiday fare you’ll be serving family and friends, you’ll want the healthiest and best ingredients you can get. By shopping the local independent markets, you can ensure that everything is fresh, and hasn’t been sitting in a warehouse for months. Also, shopping local helps to support small businesses, which in turn, helps support local families.
One thing the area independent merchants all seem to have in common, is that they are passionate about what they do and how they do it.
One local business is Anderson’s, located at 92 Queen Margaret Drive in North Kelvinside. This establishment has been at this exact spot for over 100 years! And though you may have noticed a new name outside (Barvas & James) the family that runs it is still the same. Because they have pivoted from a fruit market into flowers and gifts, they felt they needed a new name to reflect the change. But John, who is the great-grandson of the original owners, will still be offering fruit – just with a slightly different twist. People will be able to order fruit online and have it delivered right to their door!
With some larger scale businesses, ordering produce online might be a bit risky, since fruit and veg can vary in quality and freshness. The difference with Barvas & James is that it is ordered, hand-selected and delivered by John and his family. It is a plan with all the convenience of online shopping, but from people that you know and trust. Watch for the launch soon!
The shop itself has lovely pots, candle holders, luxurious bath products and even speciality chocolates! As much as possible John stocks products that are sustainably sourced from local suppliers. If you’re not sure what to buy someone, why not select a lovely plant that will add some colour to their home? A surprise bouquet will always light up someone’s face as well. John, his wife Nicola, and their team of florists create stunning displays from top quality seasonal blooms. And, as they are an independent florist, each bouquet or arrangement is a custom creation.
From late November, be sure to stop by their shop to pick out your Christmas tree! Many families have made this their annual ritual. They will have Nordmann Firs, and also Living Spruce Trees if you prefer to plant your tree in the garden after Christmas, and they deliver.
John’s great-grandparents who were from Barvas on the Isle of Lewis, would be proud of the company that they started in Glasgow over a century ago. Barvas & James is an enduring family legacy.
Another familiar face in the neighbourhood since 1979 is Roots, Fruits & Flowers. Its owner, Garth, has a long history with fresh produce, which began with working for a competitor’s fruit market, before leaving to start his own.
His initial foray into fruit, has morphed into a company that sells fruit and veg, flowers, whole foods, a whole foods deli and catering service! (They probably couldn’t fit all of that on the sign) They offer fruit and veg boxes, which are a mixture of fresh, local produce that can be delivered to your door either weekly, or bi-weekly. The contents of the box changes according to what’s in season, so you have to be open to eating with the natural variance of harvesting times.
The Whole Foods Deli, as the name implies, uses whole foods and organics in the dishes, with vegan and gluten free dishes on the menu, which again are prepared according to what’s in season. They also have delicious gluten-free cakes for dessert! You can have Roots, Fruits & Flowers cater your holiday meal or party, for innovative recipes that are good for you. But don’t delay! Kieran recommends ordering by the 1st of December to avoid disappointment. This year they will be offering organic turkeys.
If you’re looking for a gift (and who doesn’t love food?) you might consider one of their lovely cheese hampers or their full breakfast hampers. They’ll surely be appreciated and well-digested.
Roots, Fruits & Flowers will also have Christmas trees for sale, including organic and Living Trees and they’ll deliver to your door. The company has been moving things around a bit, with the flower shop and the fruit market trading places, but by the time you read this, they should be all settled in.
Another great way to shop several local businesses in one place is the Glasgow Farmers Market at Mansfield Park. Held on the 2nd and 4th Saturdays of the month, this market may be a bit of a misnomer. There’s plenty of farmer’s produce, but there’s also lots of other interesting things from soup to soap.
The Caurnie Soaperie, located in Kirkintilloch comes to the market and sells their natural skin care soaps, shampoos, shower gels and lotions. They even have their own organic herb garden where they grow their own nettle for use in their products. They happen to be the oldest and last working soap makers in the world who use a natural soap making process known as coldprocess. In two years they will celebrate their 100 year anniversary!
At the other end of the spectrum is Root Candy. This energetic group of young entrepreneurs just launched in August, and sells baked goods and sweets that contain healthy ingredients such as beetroot and carrots. If you’re needing something interesting for a dinner party that will be innovative (and tastes great) stop by the market for some of their wares.
And there’s organic fruits and veg offered by Bellefield Organics from Abernethy, where you can pick up a little farm to table action. The market is also home to around 40 vendors, including those specialising in fish, pork, lamb, and even a local importer of French Provencal delicacies. Many shoppers drive from several miles away to attend the Mansfield Park Market. Residents of Glasgow’s West End are so lucky to have such a lovely market right at their doorstep.
It’s great to support all the local merchants who care so much about the products they bring to you and your family.