Food and Drink
Posted by Carla Sammut
05. Apr, 2011
Melbourne’s vegan grocery store The Radical Grocery is the first of its kind in Australia. Specialising in vegan, organic, fair-trade, recycled and reusable products, this store is nirvana for all ethical shoppers. Having recently moved to a new, larger premises and celebrated her store’s second birthday, owner Anikee Mallis talks to Carla Sammut about the joys and struggles of operating a vegan grocery.
You’ve had a lot of struggles getting your business off the ground. What have been some of the greatest challenges?
Trying to find a retail space and finance when you’re a 22 year-old woman with no business experience and very little money behind you is a nightmare. I eventually found a dodgy agent who wanted to take advantage of my lack of experience, and we filled our little store with second-hand furniture and rented equipment. After dodgy agents and banks who didn’t give us the time of day, getting a food permit through council was unnecessarily painful and expensive.
Melbournians are really great at getting behind local projects, and I’ve seen your store inspire fierce loyalty from your customers. Have you been surprised/heart-warmed by the extent people will support the Radical Grocery? Do you think this is part and parcel of being vegan?
We’ve had customers repair our computers for ice cream, secure our windows after a break-in, give us mates rates plumbing, blog about us, donate money after robberies, even help us get our first bank loan. I’ve been brought to tears by how wonderful our customers are. We started with almost nothing and our customers have been with us helping create this monster the whole way, so it’s their store too. I also suspect they’re loyal because we’re their vegan junk food dealer.
What are some of your most popular items that people go crazy over?
Vegan organic fairtrade cupcakes, vegan cheeses, hot pies, vegan marshmallows and organic aussie avos.
Finally, I know you have grand plans for the future of the Radical Grocery. Care to share some of them with us?
In the short term we plan to have fresh baked bread, co-op style bulk foods, organic beer & wine, a gallery, a supporter rewards program, monthly events and to get more people using our community space for activist meetings, etc. Our longer term plans involve amazing fund-raising ideas for non-profits we support, more store departments & multiple stores!
Follow more of Carla’s foodie finds at www.easyasveganpie.net.
The Radical Grocery
6 Wilson Ave, Brunswick
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