This blog is the sixth in the series of ‘Plastic free Manchester: Meet the shop owners’ interviews. Previously, I've spoken to Em's Easy Eco owner Emily, Lentils & Lather owners Carl and Paulina, Goodness Zero Waste owners Lucy and Tshepo, Plentiful owner Abbie, and Earth Friendly Rocker owner Lauren. You can read more about why I decided to start this series here.
In this blog I'll be chatting to Caz, Manager at McCall's Organics. The central Manchester based store opened back in 2014 as an offshoot from its sister shop, McCall's Exotics, which is based next door. McCall's Exotics is a family run business going back generations to the early 1900s. Back in the day the family would head to Smithfield Market with a barrow (like the one inside McCall's Organics now), load up and and set up opposite Tib Street.
Tell us about McCall's Organics...
We started with under 200 hundred products and an organic vegetable offering that barely filled the barrow. Now we have nearly 1000 products, a refill section and the barrow is overflowing – literally! We started the refill section in 2018 and that has been growing along with us. Gravity dispensers were crazy expensive back then - honestly they're not much cheaper now - so we went with glass jars and tins for spices and powders that would deteriorate with the light.
Customers can bring their own containers or take one of the donated jars to refill. We try and reuse everything, opting for cleaning cloths for spills rather than paper rolls, boxes we receive deliveries in are either sent back to the company to reuse or used for deliveries for our own veggies when possible.
If you had to pick, what would be your three favourite foods in store?
• All the fruit and veg from Organic North Wholesale (is that cheating!?). I love discovering veggies that I haven't come across before, most recently the nasturtium root, it's peppery radish-like-thing that looks like a tiger!
• Our Trove Foods special this month is jalapeño and black bean sourdough, we've been with Trove since we opened and love everything they bake!
• Black garlic from Balsajo is my favourite treat, I eat them like sweets! They go well with chocolate so the black garlic brownie is always a winner for me. I've looked up how to make it myself but it's so long and fiddly that it's one of a few things I've left to the experts instead of making it myself.
What's next for McCalls Organics?
Honestly right now we are lucky that we have so many regulars to have been able to stay open, that I guess we're just gonna count our blessings!
Thanks so much to Caz for taking the time to answer my questions. If you're in central Manchester make sure to swing by McCall's Organics and check out their amazing range of products. You can find out more about them on their Instagram or website.