Exciting new Chichester food outlet promises local and quality for our changing times

Emma SchwarzEmma Schwarz
Emma Schwarz
A major new food outlet is opening in Chichester to tie in with the way food shopping is changing and needs to change.

Placing the emphasis firmly on localness and quality, Emma Schwarz, of the Rare Brand Market, is now launching The Barn Little London on September 23.

The food will come from nearly 40 different independent suppliers, 90 per cent of them within a 30 to 40 -mile radius of Chichester.

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Building on the food collection service Emma has been running since lockdown, things now move indoors. The adjoining two premises which will make up The Barn Little London will also include a ground-floor espresso bar and eatery. Upstairs, there will be a wellness hub.

The business will run Wednesday to Saturday. Emma has also got permission for 25 evening events and Sunday brunches a year on an ad hoc basis.

“My vision is that we will open more than Chichester. My vision is that we will open across the south coast.

“What we are trying to do is to bridge the gap between the supermarket and the farm shop. If you are a small food producer or a regional food independent brand, the way you grow is through the farmers markets and then you might supply delis and farm shops. But the deli and farm shop industry is so patchy and fragmented, and then you have got a big gap, a huge leap to the supermarkets.”

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Emma intends to fill that gap – and to match the way we are all going to need to do our food shopping: “We need to care more about where the food is coming from, we need to know more about its provenance, we need to support our communities and we all need to eat better.

“There is a place for the supermarkets, but they are not sustainable, and we have got to have a different model and we have got to give people better access to good-quality local food right on the high street.”

For Emma is it is a return to physical retail: “I have been in retail since I was a Saturday girl in M&S in East Street stacking shelves. I have been in retail since I was 16. I have done a lot of different retail within the M&S group and a bit of furniture retail and head office work before becoming a mum and coming back to Chichester 13 years ago.

“And that was when I gave birth to the Rare Brand Market. As a consumer, I wanted to create something for the smaller independent retailers that would fit in with being a mum. This is now my return to physical retail, and of all my experiences in retail over the years, it was working with food that made me the happiest. I love food personally. I love food experiences. Over the years, I have enjoyed food retail the best, and I feel that the small independent food producers are a wonderful bunch of people who are more passionate about their product than they are about their profit margin.”

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The new premises combine the old Dyson King Barn in Chichester with the former premises of the old Philip Stroud restaurant, a huge part of Chichester’s fine-dining past.

“It is going to be first and foremost a venue – a lifestyle venue. We are going to be the UK’s first upcycled shop fit. There are lots of safety things that we have got to do brand new, but everything else will be salvaged from flea markets or second hand. Anything that can be upcycled or salvaged, we will salvage.”

Ten per cent of everything they sell will go to of UKHarvest, a charity which collects quality surplus food from a variety of retailers/producers and delivers it, direct and free of charge, to other charities that can make use of it to support those in need. It provides much needed assistance to vulnerable men, women and children across the UK.

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