We are constantly told to support independent shops, to keep the High Street alive. In the case of the small village of Lochwinnoch in Renfrewshire, the customers have the message loud and clear as the Heritage Farmers Market shop, on Main Street, is going like a fair.

A small shop, similar to the grocers of yesteryear, offers customers of the village and the surrounding areas, the chance to pick up fresh and local food and lots of deli choices that are made in-house. Basically, a farmer’s market in a permanent shop.

Sean Middleton is the owner and has the personality and character to have some banter with most of the people that come through the door.

Linda, the manageress, tells me that customers just love the steak pies and sausage rolls they make in-house. The other thing that they can’t get enough of is dirty carrots, sourced locally from Ayrshire and the tatties come from just down the road at West Kilbride.  The taste and smell are superior she hears from her customers.

Looking at the deli counter, Sean tells me that they are probably making around 90% of what is displayed. Pies, sausages, coleslaw, macaroni cheese, lasagne, soups and sandwiches are all made in-house.

In the back shop they have their own butchery where they process their own cuts of local beef ,lamb and venison and make sausages and burgers under the Heritage name. 

Sean moved up from the north east of England back in the early 1990s, to manage the grouse shooting at a local estate, and his estate management career diversified in 2002 when he went self-employed. He had added a small butchery in his farm buildings and was supplying friends and family with venison. When the farmers market movement started, he was all set to take advantage of the surge in consumer interest and was selling at the Ayrshire and Renfrewshire markets. Markets expanded around Scotland and he also started rearing free-range native breed pigs to sell pork and bacon at the markets..

The need for bigger premises took him to Lochwinnoch and the shop provided a stable selling platform, which was quite fortuitous considering the demise of the farmers markets.

Sourcing products for a farmer’s market shop is easy enough when you know lots of people who sold at farmers markets. Sean stocks lots of the products that his colleagues at the markets sold, supporting local and rural businesses along the way.

Customers are streaming into the shop, some buying dinner – the pies, steak, chicken; the sausage rolls, lasagne etc. There is a whole range of meats on offer, it is basically a butcher’s shop with lots of added extras to tempt you.

Others are in to get fed on the go. Sandwiches, teas and coffees for passing van drivers are all sold with a smile and a chat. It has a lovely friendly atmosphere in the shop, brought about by the staff who are also all local and know lots of the faces who are shopping there.

The beef that is so popular in the pies is from John Scott meats, suppliers of quality meat to the industry. The veg is sourced as locally as can be, obviously, there is no one growing bananas in Renfrewshire, so they may come from further afield.

They have also signed up to be the drop off point for Locavore, which is a Social Enterprise providing an organic vegetable box scheme.The Heritage shop is also the ordering and collection hub for Eat Lochwinnoch evolved by LEAP to provide a range of organic, gluten free and ethical products supplied by The Green City Cooperative in Glasgow. The customer orders the products fortnightly online, and they can be picked up from the shop when it is convenient. All the vegetables are organic, and Sean stresses that he does his best to make sure as many of his products are organic and, or, locally sourced.

I notice on the blackboard with the days specials that there is a range of slimmers products available. Lean meats those that are counting the calories can incorporate into their diets.

Also new to the chill cabinet is Mossgiel Milk. An organic non-homogenised milk from Ayrshire, customers really love the creamier taste that it has. It has proved popular, it’s a little more expensive than your normal milk but it seems that customers are willing to pay it for the difference in taste.

The shop also has a good range of frozen food, cupboard essentials, local honey, fruit and veg, Arran Cheese, fresh bread, and the best potato scones ever, I’m told. The take away food keeps them busy and the shop offers a whole lot of options that the only other food provider, The Spar, can’t compete with.

Standing resilient to the weather and always there when the shop is open is Shug. Shug, (he’s hard to describe – the shop mascot, a mannequin?) stands outside with his hands on his hips, belly thrust forward with his butchers apron on and a big smile on his face. Shug is a village legend now for all that know him.

I speak to local customer Evelyn Milligan, who tells me that she shops there regularly. She tells me: “It’s a great shop, and I use it all the time. The steak pies are awesome, and I regularly buy their beef joints, gammon joints and chicken fillets. The turkey saddle cold meat slices are the juiciest I’ve every had. I also use Sean for catering at my work, which is the Lochbarr Leisure Services, and I’ve always had terrific feedback. The shop has been a great addition to the village.”

As it is, Linda is trying to chat to me and keep serving the stream of customers that are coming in for their shopping. The shop is a nod to how we used to shop, locally and fresh. Buying what we need for that day or the next. Not bulk buying which is now the norm in the supermarkets.

I leave her to it and pass the ever-present Shug on the way out the door. If Shug is outside, the shop is open. Pop in and say hello if you are in the area.

Open seven days, on Main Street, Lochwinnoch. See facebook for the latest additions to the shop under Heritage Farmers Market Shop.