We live in a day and age where faceless supermarket chains surround us, often with us arguing with the self-scanner and being promised cheap deals and convenience. However, it hasn’t always been that way and it doesn’t have to stay that way. So, the question is – what can we do about it?
I spoke with Kelly Vincent, current owner of Leatherborrows Fruit and Vegetable stall about her family business.
“As you see we have Letherbarrows fruit and vegetables and we are now the fourth generation, Letherbarrows. My great-great grandad started the stall many years ago, over eighty or ninety years now. So, the store as it looks now is very different, my dad used to pack out the stall far better and more magical than I could recreate. It used to be packed out every day, with the tissue paper and signage. I wish I could write the way my dad did.”
“My dad left school when he was around 14, the market was here but at the time it was outside which then became a covered market in and around 1972. He started out in the market at the age of 3, to which I followed suit. I began working in the market at the age of 7, I used to run the egg stall every Saturday, all by myself and I had to pack the eggs out and ensure that all the eggs were sold before I could take a break. I think that this helped me to develop a sales intuition. This would be the way in which I would earn my pocket money, £25 in total.”
“I then went off to do some studying and ended up working in the media for a long time. I then came out of that and had my own family. Unfortunately, around that time, dad got sick. He passed in 2011. My mum being 62 at the time, it was quite a lot for her. About seven years ago, I walked into my mum’s house on a Sunday morning. A bit of a princess and hadn’t done work since having the children, my mum needed me. So, I stepped up to the mark and I took it over.”
“I started buying down in Spitalfields, I was getting up at 1 o’clock in the morning, working through the night and then I would run home to get the children ready for school and then work on the stall during the day.
That is how it all came about, mum’s been retired three years ago, so it’s me and my team now. I absolutely love it, its not glamourous but it has got a great big heart to it. The thing is, I can still smell my dad and I know he’s still part of it.”
“In all the time that I have worked on the stall, the most memorable thing is, the smell. When I went back into Spitalfields for the very first time, obviously my dad had passed three years before hand. You walk in and it’s the smell of fermenting fruit and it has a very distinguished smell to it and it really sort of choked me, I could literally smell my dad.”
“What I try to do is, bring back the old-fashioned greengrocer. We’re out there shouting, being very personable with the community; we try to get to know them. I have such an amazing team, all from different cultures and its brilliant to learn how they live.
We have cultures here that don’t go to the supermarket and instead will buy from their local butcher or fish monger. They will buy whole boxes of mangos or fresh vegetables and cook from scratch to feed their family. They buy, look and feel and what we try to do is offer tasters so that they know the food is fresh.
It’s such a brilliant community, that my daughters love it just as much as I do. They follow the same tradition and come down on a Saturday to learn about the business and to understand what it is to earn a wage.”
“I am upset with how London is at the moment; with the knife crime and I’m actually doing a 100 mile bike ride for knife crime and I do support a lot of the mental health side of things. It is something that needs to leave our community. If I could say ask anything of the community is to be kind to each other, giving that small bit of respect it gives so much back.”
Letherbarrow is such a fruitful, friendly, family business that cares for the community and is a fantastic representation of what Edmonton Green really is about.
Make sure that Letherbarrow is one to call into on your next visit.