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Fight to keep Windmill turning

Pioneering organic food store evicted from Smithdown after 20 years

Written by . Published on October 17th 2011.

Fight to keep Windmill turning
Picture by Stephanie De Leng

NO matter how much the Government says it’s on the side of local enterprise, for many small independent businesses the future is rocky.

At the end of this month, one of south Liverpool’s most popular and pioneering grocery stores, Windmill Wholefoods, is being chucked out of the premises in Smithdown Road which have been its home for 20 years.

'Letting agents want so much money upfront,
and rents demanded today are so much
higher than what we have been paying'

Even the big supermarkets – Asda is one of Windmill’s neighbours – just cannot match the range of natural foods stocked in this corner shop with a difference.

Windmill was selling and delivering boxes of organic fruit and vegetables when the notion was just a twinkle in River Cottage's eye. It’s an Aladdin’s cave not only for vegans and vegetarians but anyone who espouses the idea of healthy, fairly traded food and ethical practices.

(Click here to add text)Stuff they sellThe problem for the Windmill Co-operative, which runs the shop, is the urgent need for cash, to pay the advance rents and deposits demanded by letting agents. Windmill might be a successful business with a 20-year track record, but try telling that to the banks who are just as unhelpful and seemingly uncaring when a blip is encountered.

So at the end of October the shutters will come down on Windmill while the frantic search starts for a new home and fundraising - without the help of the banks – begins.

The five strong co-op is currently talking to private landlords and a move to the Lark Lane/Aigburth area is looking good.

Emma Smith only joined the co-op in the spring and is one of eight people working in the shop.

“Windmill opened in 1991 and this has been our some since then, but the landlord wants the property for his own business and we are out of here at the end of the month,” she said.

“It has all happened very quickly, and while Windmill is a success this sudden departure is causing us problems. This is because letting agents want so much money upfront, and rents demanded today are so much higher than what we have been paying.

“We are a small independent shop and this change has been forced upon us at the height of this economic climate.”

Not to be downhearted, Windmill says if a deal can be struck the new shop could be opened in a matter of weeks. However, the future is far from certain and they have taken fundraising matters into their own hands.

The co-operative has already asked for volunteers willing to help – cleaning, painting, moving stuff, promoting the new shop if and when it opens. In the meantime, they are looking for transport and storage for the entire contents of the shop.

“A few of us have joined the co-operative recently and we had started to talk about how we could drive things forward, so this has really exercised our minds on that one.”

(Click here to add text)
During their, hopefully, temporary absence Windmill will continue with its bagged-organic fruit and veg delivery scheme to the homes of its many customers.

There are not enough shops in Liverpool like Windmill where customers can escape the scary world of e-numbers, additives and preservatives while, at the same time, being sure that their buck isn't being banged into the bank of an anonymous shareholder

There’s something nice about seeing carrots and potatoes still caked in the unspoilt soil of Mother Earth, where you will find something delicious on every shelf.

Let’s hope Windmill finds its new home quickly.


(Click here to add text)
Fund raising gigs

Tuesday (Oct 18) In Support of Windmill, at The Creative Space in Wolstenholme Square, Liverpool City Centre from 8pm.

Monday (Oct 24) Super Supper Club, an evening of dinner, jazz and acoustic music, at Mello Mello, Slater Street, 7-30pm till late. The food will be organic, ethically sourced and vegetarian, all made from ingredients from the shop.  Entrance is just £6.00 including your dinner and £3.00 without.

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7 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

London RoadOctober 17th 2011.

they wouldn't be the first business to struggle unnecessarily because of fat greedy corporate vested interests.

The great irony of what Windmill IS and who it has to go to, cap in hand, in order to survive, cannot be lost on anyone. Quantitive easing is supposed to help people like this, but once again the banks (some of which we own) are allowed free rein to sit on money while honest people go under.

AnonymousOctober 17th 2011.

who would miss lettings agents and their parasitical colleagues, compensation lawyers, if a bonfire was made out of the lot of them. Would the world be a worse place? It would not.

WagOctober 17th 2011.

That's not very ethical, anonymous!

Absinthe & TurksOctober 18th 2011.

With so many shop premises in prime spots having to be turned over to become charity shops because of the lack of demand, you'd think that landlords would buck their ideas up.
In a civilised country like France they'd have bylaws to promote diversity in shopping areas.

Such a pity Windmill shall soon be going to Lark Lane where only the wealthy can now afford to live. It meant so much more as a beacon of ethical, healthy food in its current suburban bedsitland.

AnonymousOctober 18th 2011.

If everyone went and had one of their £7 organic veggie boxes delivered that would be a start. Windmill is the only chance people in Smithdown, particularly skint students, have got of a healthy lifestyle. They should become an online retailer and fuck the banks

Laura BrownOctober 21st 2011.

Letter included in said veg box yesterday says the store is closing tomorrow. Boxes will continue as long as they can. I might add the box we got yesterday was the best we'd had in a long while. It even included Artichoke. Artichoke I tells you!

AnonymousOctober 23rd 2011.

completely for the fight to keep businesses like Windmill, but just have to say that after recieving months worth of weekly veg bags/boxes, a good amoung of the fruit and veg was rotten or 1 day from being so. wanted to continue for the principle of supporting local businesses, but at the end of the day, i needed to actually eat the food i was paying for.

RE: the comments about Windmill moving to rich suburbia, I agree BUT due to their delivery service they can still easily reach customers all over liverpool - so not such an issue.

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