A Cumbrian couple’s new business venture is setting the standard for sustainable trading.
Claire and Alec McCarthy, who run the Rattle Ghyll café in Ambleside, have now opened a fine food and deli shop in the town.
It’s stocked with local – and natural – produce. And in a bid to eliminate plastic from our shopping bags, one corner is dedicated to zero-waste self-service refills of a range of grocery products.
These include beans, lentils, nuts and seeds, dried fruit, rice and couscous, porridge oats and muesli, which can be dispensed into paper bags or customers’ own containers; and washing up liquid and shampoo.
The shop also has a wide range of teas and coffees from local suppliers Atkinsons, Rinaldos and Red Bank, unusual cheeses as well as dairy-free and gluten-free items, fresh salads and home-made cakes.
“We want to know what our customers – locals and tourists – want us to stock,” said Claire. “We’re not just open to suggestions, we positively want them to tell us what they would like to see here.”
There are wines and beers alongside on-trend natural products such as Kimchi -a staple in Korean cuisine, which is a traditional side dish of salted and fermented vegetables – and Kombucha, a fermented drink said to have health benefits. Coming soon will be spice mixes and recipe cards so that customers can make their own versions of what they have tried at the original café.
Claire and Alec, who have a two-year old daughter Adelaide, have been running the Rattle Ghyll café for six years. They have built an award-winning reputation for home cooking and baking which has won fans among locals and tourists alike. It’s especially popular with runners and cyclists.
“The new venture is enabling us to share our concerns about the environment, to help lower carbon footprints by offering a wide range of goods locally, and to encourage shoppers to abandon plastic,” said Claire.
Shoppers were enthusiastic. Early comments included: “This will change the way we shop locally” and “It’s like a proper grocery shop used to be, and so different from all the pre-packaged goods in supermarkets.”
Chris Hodgson, who with his wife Allie runs the town’s award-winning Haven Cottage guest house, and is a member of the sustainability group Ambleside Action for a Future, welcomed the new shop. He said: “This is an exciting new venture which will encourage people to shop locally, for fantastic tasting local produce, and cut down on our use of plastics. It also proves you don’t have to sacrifice taste and flavour to support sustainability.”
A spokesperson for AAFAF said that the group had been quietly cheering on the new venture and was absolutely delighted that it was coming to fruition. “It will certainly contribute very significantly to reducing plastic usage in the town and bring the issue of plastic containers and packaging to the forefront of people’s minds.” She added that AAFAF’s members would certainly be among its most regular and enthusiastic