A INDEPENDENT shop on Manningtree's High Street says "incredibly loyal" customers have helped keep it going for more than 25 years. 

The Wholefood Store started in 1998 but in the decades since its message about the environment has not changed. 

Reducing plastic waste is a key aim of the business with the store having a “hugely popular refill service” for dried foods as well as household and body-care goods used by “a large section of the community”.

Owner Sarah Mawkes explained how working at the store was always interesting due to “changing trends” and “new products to keep up with”.

She said: “I have grown up eating wholefoods and organic vegetables and therefore probably take it for granted.

“The challenge is to educate all of the community about whole foods, food in its raw unadulterated state. And thereby what to do with it and how to cook it.”

Harwich and Manningtree Standard: Owner - Sarah Mawkes Owner - Sarah Mawkes (Image: The Wholefood Store)

Sarah also said the organic food industry was a “hugely satisfying” place to work because as well as the suppliers, customers “love food, they care about food diversity, the planet and the benefits of shopping locally”.

But Sarah said that for many eating wholefoods and organic vegetables “may seem daunting” which is why she hopes for more people to find out about their food.

Harwich and Manningtree Standard: Pretty - The Wholefood Store's window displays are another reason for its successPretty - The Wholefood Store's window displays are another reason for its success (Image: The Wholefood Store)

Regarding the secrets to the success of running a store for a quarter of a century, Sarah said how good displays and knowledgeable staff help out, as well as “great suppliers” who themselves have great relationships with the growers to ensure the organic goods are reliable.

Sarah added that their “incredibly loyal customers base” has also “evolved organically over the 25 years” meaning that the store has now become part of the fabric of Manningtree.

For the future, Sarah hopes that The Wholefood Store can continue being for all.

She said: “We want to carry on sharing knowledge and enthusiasm to help people eat better and to promote more seasonal and localised food.

“Food that is traced back to healthy soil and good people.”