Best Health Food Shop in Uckfield – at the bottom of town near the railway station – has stayed open seven days a week throughout the Coronavirus crisis.
Owners Len Glenville and Melanie Beard are proud of this achievement and of their staff who have worked tirelessly through difficult times.
The couple said: “The enormous gratitude and support from customers has been amazing too and has helped everyone to keep going.”
Len and Melanie knew it was crucial to their customers, and the community, that they continued supplying essential and specialised products that were out of stock in other shops, helping those with particular dietary requirements, and others who wanted to continue looking after their health with supplements, herbs, and homeopathic remedies.
Also important, says Melanie, is the reassurance and advice, offered by the shop’s qualified nutritionist, and qualified herbalist, on ways customers can improve their heath and immune systems.
As a food shop, the business falls into the ‘essential’ category and has been permitted to stay open.
All government guidelines and procedures have been adhered to, and social distancing guidelines continue to be followed with only two people allowed inside at any one time.
There are strict hygiene measures, and staff wear PPE – but customers are still able to visit from 9am to 5pm Monday to Saturday, and 11am – 4pm on Sundays.
Melanie and Len say they are grateful to Uckfield volunteers who rallied when help was needed with a new collection and delivery service set up at the start of lockdown, to help those who were vulnerable and unable to travel.
Melanie and Len told Uckfield News: “We have tried to react quickly to customer demand, by constantly changing and adapting to their needs, and we have done a huge amount to keep everybody safe, staff and customers, whilst also keeping the prices of products the same as they were before.
“We price our products at the recommended price from our suppliers and never add extra on top.”
The couple are delighted to see other shops starting to reopen. “This is fantastic. We want to see the High Street come alive again, especially for the smaller independent shops that need to be able to continue to what they do best.”
Len and Melanie took over the existing health food shop, It’s Only Natural, which had served the community for 30 years.
The owner retired early, finding it increasingly difficult to compete in the current retail environment, and Len and Melanie wanted to see the history and legacy of the shop live on.
They completed a major refurbishment, rebranded, and opened the doors to the new Best Health Food Shop in October.
Uckfield Mayor, Cllr Spike Mayhew, cut the ribbon, and was accompanied by Len’s Mum, well-known Women’s Health Nutritionist Dr Marilyn Glenville.
Bright and airy
Melanie said they have created a bright, airy, and spacious, shop, while making it warm and friendly.
They hold more than 1,000 product lines in store and have access to another 10,000 available to customers for next day, in-store delivery.
Stock includes food – frozen, chilled and ambient – toiletries, household products, supplements, herbal and homeopathic remedies, books, plastic free and eco-friendly products, local products – including locally-made face masks – and a weekly gluten-free bread delivery plus much more.
Ranges include organic, vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free.
There is a Zero Waste dispensing and refill station too, for dry foods, such as nuts, pasta, grains and lentils, plus household products, toiletries, such as shampoo and conditioner, and soap. As well as weighed out items such as herbs and spices, and dried fruit.
Len and Melanie have many more plans for improving the Uckfield shop, one of five they now own.
For example, they aim to make one of the back rooms a consulting room where therapists, such as nutritionists and herbalists will be able to talk over customers’ health issues and recommend products, food, and lifestyle changes, designed to help them.
As soon as they are able they will also be organising more events for the community both in store, and in town.
In February, for example, they arranged for a talk to be given by Dr Marilyn Glenville, at the Civic Centre.
More than 70 people attended and the success of the event, with positive feedback, has boosted the couple’s commitment to holding more.
Melanie and Len said: “We want to get more involved at a community level. Our aim is to pick up where the previous owner of the shop left off, continuing her legacy for another 30 years, and bringing the business more into the community by offering exceptional service, a comprehensive quality product range, and education for all on how to take control of their health through this current crisis and beyond.”