Innovating the way we shop – a return to the general store

Article originally published at Ferntree Gully News.

If the past couple of years have taught us anything, it’s that we value connection, a friendly face and sense of local community. It’s also shown us the importance of new beginnings and supporting local business.

With this in mind, perhaps it’s no surprise that we are seeing a rise in small shop alternatives to traditional supermarkets and coffee shops.

Photo by Barbara Oehring.

Nestled in at No. 90 Station Street is the latest addition to Ferntree Gully. Larder & Thyme provides delicious home-cooked takeaway meals and a range of gifts, homewares, plants, candles, jams and sauces, even artwork.

Upon entry, you’ll be greeted by with a smile Rachael, Bec and Josh. This bright and welcoming space is full of tasty meals that are made with love – so the next time you’re stuck wondering ‘what’s for dinner?’, you won’t have to go far. There are also a range of low gluten, FODMAP and vegan options available.

Everything is made onsite, including their yummy range of cakes, slices and treats. We took home the Vegetarian Lasagne and Creamy Chicken and Bacon Penne to try. Both were delicious and easy to prepare.

Across the way is Station Street Food Co – a grocer, deli and café combined, run by owners Kat and Declan. Here you can buy organic produce like fresh fruit and vegetables, artisan-made bread, cheeses, sauces and a range of condiments, along with indoor plants, pots, gifts and macramé.

The café also introduced an outdoor seating area earlier this year, providing a beautiful spot to sit and enjoy a coffee or a sandwich on a sunny day.

Station Street Food Co. Photo by Barbara Oehring.

Over at Mountain Gate Shopping Centre, Providence Foods continues to provide an innovative approach to shopping that’s aimed at reducing single use waste.

The shop stocks a variety of spices, grains, flour, nuts, milk, tea and cooking ingredients, along with household supplies like dishwashing detergent. There’s also a range of gifts and homewares available, from natural soaps and bath salts to tea towels.

Owners Heather and Barry say that the shop has been modelled after ‘the general store of yesteryear,’ where you can pop in and say hello. They’re even making their own organic peanut butter in-store!

Heather and Barry at Providence Foods, Mountain Gate. Photo: Meg Hellyer.

All you need to do is bring in your own container or use the jars supplied in-store. There’s no packaging, no waste. It’s all about learning to live more sustainably and be more environmentally conscious.

One thing’s for sure – each of these businesses is changing the way we shop for the better, while offering an all-in-one solution for your weekly shop. Now more than ever, let’s support local.