“We were on board with Bristol Pound from the offset. We feel it’s important to demonstrate boldly and proudly to our communities that we’re committed to local retailers, suppliers and services. They’re a badge of honour, a sign that says ‘we’re in!’. Plus the notes are beautiful.”
Selling organic and local food “and so much more”, Better Food is a Bristol institution. Celebrated in the Soil Association’s Best Indie Retailers list of 2017, 75% of their produce is supplied by The Community Farm in Chew Magna (£B).
With three locations, in Clifton, St Werburghs and Wapping Wharf (all accepting Bristol Pounds), they’re a big presence in the city, so we were delighted to interview Fiona Mason, Store Manager of Better Food on Whiteladies Road – the first native Bristolian person we’ve interviewed so far in this series!
How did you find yourself living and working in Bristol?
I grew up in North Somerset, though I was born in Southmead Hospital and went to school in Bristol, so I consider myself fully Bristolian.
What do you love about Bristol? And what do you love about your job?
I love the small town vibe whist having all the perks of being in a city.
The best thing about my job is the people I work with. Only at Better Food can you work alongside yoga teachers, gardeners and all round eco champions. Many of my colleagues have set up their own Bristol based businesses which is so inspiring.
I love making a connection with all our local producers and the training we receive for our Health & Bodycare suppliers – I’ve learned so much!
How did you start your business?
Better Food was set up over 25 years ago by our owner Phil Haughton. He’s a lifelong campaigner and champion of sustainable farming, and these values run through every aspect of the business.
How do you keep it going?
A lot of hard work and juggling!
What’s your favourite thing about running an independent business?
Flexibility! Being able to react quickly to customer feedback and having the trust of the Central Management Team when you need to make changes is really satisfying. It’s drastically different from when I worked for a large food retailer… thankfully!
What are the challenges?
It can be difficult balancing profitability whilst keeping our suppliers, staff and customers happy. The more money we can generate in organic retailing the better it will be for all involved so it’s definitely a challenge but we do our upmost to rise to it and welcome any feedback.
What made you sign up to accept Bristol Pounds? What do you like about the scheme?
We were on board with Bristol Pound from the offset. We feel it’s important to demonstrate boldly and proudly to our communities that we’re committed to local retailers, suppliers and services. They’re a badge of honour, a sign that says ‘we’re in!’. Plus the notes are beautiful.
Where do you spend your Bristol Pounds?
We use our Bristol Pounds to pay Essential [£B] every week. It works really well for us and keeps that dough circulating locally! Personally, I also use them for yoga classes. Throw a stick and you hit a yoga studio in Bristol- so it’s great that so many support the scheme.
Are Bristol Pound customers different?
Our Bristol Pound customers are always super friendly, buy lots of fresh produce and never forget their shopping bags! So if that sounds like you – then sign up!
What are your five favourite Bristol places?
Wild Oats [£B] – not far from our shop at Whiteladies Road. They’re a super friendly team and I love to support likeminded businesses.
* Read our interview with founder Mike Abrahams here.
Bristol Loaf Bakery – we now stock their amazing award-winning sourdoughs.
Box E – the owners are great, the food is great, the location is great … just go … it’s great.
Bar Buvette – for one of those ’I want to be on holiday in France drinking wine and eating charcuterie ’ kind of days.
Better Food at Whiteladies Rd [£B] – clearly I’m biased but I was a regular customer before I joined the company. Treat yourself to one of our organic chickens, roast in the usual way and you’ll never look back. Trust me! (Other Better Food stores are available!)
Thank you Fiona!