Greengrocers who are defying a trend

Simon Fishwick of Earnshaws of Horbury
Simon Fishwick of Earnshaws of Horbury

They were a fixture of British high streets alongside butchers and bakers but declined as shoppers migrated to supermarkets.

But two independent greengrocers in the district are holding on and bringing something to the table that is harder to find in larger stores.

Earnshaws of Horbury on Queen Street has traded in the town since the 1950s.

And the owner of Sandra’s Cabbage Patch in Ossett has worked at the shop since he left school 25 years ago.

Simon Fishwick, proprietor at Earnshaws, said: “This shop has been here 63 years, four generations of greengrocers. For the community to lose it would be sacrilege.

“It would be no good standing in Boon’s pub across the road and saying ‘there used to be a greengrocer’s over there’. It’s a case of use it or lose it.”

Sandra's Cabbage Patch owner Gavin Gleadhill, in Ossett.

Sandra's Cabbage Patch owner Gavin Gleadhill, in Ossett.

Mr Fishwick rediscovered his love for independent trading on his return to Horbury after 15 years in the military.

And when the opportunity to buy Earnshaws came up he took the chance with both hands.

He said: “I thought ‘I’d like to run that’. I’d like to put my own little stamp on it and create a nice ambient feel for people to come down and shop and keep a greengrocer in the village.

“There should be one in every village that people can use.

“Wakefield as a city has a lot to offer. It’s a place with such a fantastic heritage and historical background and it is not utilised as well as it could be.”

He said that trade had declined by 37 per cent over the last year and was putting in 100-hour weeks to keep the business in action.

The grocer also supplies veg to the Hepworth gallery cafe.

Gavin Gleadhill bought Sandra’s Cabbage Patch from his mum. He has worked at the Ossett greengrocer since he left school aged 15.

And though greengrocers are not as common as they may have been, the early mornings picking up stock and stacking his shelves for the day’s trade have been the permanent fixture of his working life.

He said: “Shops like this are part of another era but I don’t often think about it and it’s all I’ve ever really done.

“I’m hoping I will be here a few more years but you don’t know what’s around the corner.”