Last week I challenged myself as a newbie to Bristol, to do a food shop using JUST Bristol Pounds.
This ‘city specific’ currency is wholly new to me and I find it fascinating. What I wanted to know was whether the Bristol Pound is a thing designed to appeal to tourists or whether real Bristolians are using it for every day purchases. After all, if they are – this is a good thing – because more of the Bristol Pound goes back into Bristol than the standard pound, thus, its supporting the local economy in a more effective manner.
I headed down to the Tourist Information Centre last week to purchase my pounds – all very easy – it was a straight swap, cash for cash. I asked the lady behind the counter who she’s selling them to. She told me that they sell a lot of them to all sorts of people including lots of locals and definitely not just to tourists (despite there being a Japanese couple behind me in the queue who told me they were buying them as a souvenir).
Anyway, with my directory in hand, I headed out to buy some food. It was a small achievable list which was mainly vegetables with a few rogue items (chipotle chilli and tortillas) which I needed for a recipe I’m working on.
I spent a couple of hours walking from town up to and along Gloucester Road and as I went along, I was really impressed to see just how many places accept the Bristol Pound either in cash or text message form with big clear window stickers announcing that they accept the currency. I found that on Gloucester Road alone, there were numerous places – greengrocers, cafes, delis and international shops – where I could shop.
My favourite though, was back towards town. Bear Fruit, a pop up grocers in the Bear Pit and very convenient for home. I spent some time talking to the guy there, explained what I was doing and why. He loved it and told me how great he thinks the £B is. I picked up almost everything I needed that day with just a few items I had to resort to else where for.
My experience was wholly positive – it sparked conversations and made me feel part of the community. I’ll definitely use Bristol Pounds again. They help the community and give you a sense of belonging which is greatly appreciated by me, a newbie to this great foodie city!
Alex Ryder is a food writer and blogger who has recently moved to Bristol. You can read more of her adventures in food here: http://www.gingeybites.com/.