Business is booming for Middlesbrough’s first vegan food store which is doubling in size less than a year after opening.
The Little Vegan Market in Dundas Market has also been nominated for a prestigious national award.
The business is run by Charlotte Bottomley and Matthew Wilson who say they are pleasantly surprised by their success.
“When we opened it was a bit of a risk really, because we weren’t sure how it would go down,” said Matthew. “But there’s been much more interest than we first thought.”
So much so that the pair have taken over the neighbouring unit in Dundas Market, with the extra space enabling them to offer greater choice, help more shoppers buy their dried foods in bulk and also minimise waste by encouraging customers to bring in their own containers for their shampoos, conditioners and detergents.
They believe the popularity of The Little Vegan Market has resulted from their passion and knowledge, as well as the public’s greater awareness and curiosity about veganism.
Campaigns like Veganuary – which encouraged people to try vegan food in January – and the wave of publicity surrounding Greggs’ launch of a vegan sausage roll have helped.
“Veganuary was massive with lots of people coming in – even if they had no intention of going vegan – just asking questions. It’s fantastic that it’s becoming so mainstream,” said Matthew.
“If we’ve made it easier for people to go vegan, which was our aim, then that’s brilliant. I expected there to be lots of students amongst our customers, but they come from every background. When we opened I had an image in my head of what the stereotypical vegan looked like – but I haven’t seen that person once.”
Matthew and Charlotte have a five year plan which is definitely on track to deliver further growth for their business and they have been supported from the start by Dundas Market Manager David Harris.
“David continues to be very helpful. He’s very supportive and always willing to offer advice and put you in contact with the right people,” said Matthew.
“It’s been extremely satisfying to see The Little Vegan Market become so successful so quickly,” said David. “Everybody connected with Dundas Market is proud of what they have achieved and their presence has been of great benefit to all of the businesses around them, particularly to our café Jean’s Kitchen where they have helped develop vegan items for the menu.
“Although space on our market is at a premium, I am still are keen to hear from new and established retailers, especially from the types of business we know are in demand and which will enhance our offer. I would be especially interested in hearing from greengrocers, bakers, ethnic food suppliers, vintage memorabilia retailers, sweets sellers, and fruit juice or milkshake bar operators.
“Start-up businesses can rent one of a small number of Enterprise Units. They cost from just £60 per week and are available on a short term tenancy agreement.”
Dundas Indoor Market is located in the Dundas Shopping Centre where all the shops offer value for money, from national brands like B&M, Fulton Foods and Cooplands to well-known local independents like The Festival Shop, Tik Tok, Homefair Blinds, Buckshees Military Surplus, LD Printing and Miss Unique, many of which started life trading in Dundas Market.