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Beeches of Walkley: Farm shop plans to turn high street around

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Beeches of Walkley.

The owners of an independent farm shop have announced that they've taken the shop off the market and plan to stay in Walkley.

Beeches of Walkley was put up for sale by owners Donna and Chris Beech two years ago, after the opening of a new ASDA supermarket led to a decline in footfall.

"ASDA came along, bought the Netto and set out on a war," Chris told Now Then. "They had a plan to shut us down. The convenience store did actually shut, so I had three empty units either side of me."

It's just about reminding people we're here

Last night, a post by Chris announcing that the shop was no longer for sale went viral.

"I did a Facebook post last night and 4,400 people have looked at it already", he said. "No advertising I've ever done has been as good as that. It's just about reminding people we're here."

Chris and Donna took the butchers over ten years ago, and attracted new customers by expanding the premises and diversifying into fruit and veg.

"We invented Beeches of Walkley," says Chris. "We went looking at different farm shops and thought an inner-city farm shop would be good. Not a lot of people can go out to the country and we support local farms like Whirlow and Heeley City Farm."

The opening of the new ASDA led to a decline in the fortunes of Walkley high street and the shop was also a victim of its own success.

"People were selling their houses and house prices were rocketing because estate agents were mentioning our farm shop," says Chris. "House prices shot up and a lot of our customers moved away."

I've got my mojo back

To appeal to a broader range of customers, Beeches have applied to host a Post Office counter for Walkley. The pair have also focused on sustainability, selling biodegradable bags and loose garden peas.

"We're having a lot of people coming in with their own tupperware to have meat put in, and they can weigh out their own frozen fruit and veg," said Chris.

"Really fabulous news!" read one of the comments under Chris's announcement. "Beeches is one of the big reasons I've fallen in love with Walkley, and I'm so glad to hear it'll be staying."

For Chris, the way to beat the big supermarkets is by bringing in new ideas.

"We don't take much of a wage, but we're going to reinvest and get Walkley back up there again," he said. "We'll go in as if it's a new business, and give it that. I've got my mojo back."

Sam Gregory

Visit Beechley of Walkey's website, or find them on Facebook or Twitter.

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