Interview with Len Gleadell of Gleadell Meats (February 8th 2011)
Rochford Life: Len, how long has your shop been here now?
Len: Ten years. I’ve been a butcher since I left school. I was nineteen years in a shop in Hornchurch, and eventually my own shop. The area was running down and so I looked around for something else and found this in Rochford.
RL: What are your opening times?
Len: Well, it’s really 8 – 5 but if it’s really quiet we’ll close up a bit earlier.
RL: You appear to be one of the busiest shops in the Square.
Len: It’s in the mornings. I would say that 90% of our trade are retired and elderly and they tend to get up early, get in and get their meat. That’s in the morning, then at around lunchtime we get businesses but then come the afternoon it’s a few stragglers
RL: Presumably there are people who shop with you rather than going to a supermarket?
Len: Yes, because they can get what they want. It’s all right if you are a big large family and want large trays of this and large trays of that, but a lot of our trade may be just one slice of liver, a rasher of bacon and a sausage, for a mixed grill, in portions they wouldn’t get in a supermarket.
RL: My wife shops here and says your prices are often lower than the supermarkets, but as a man I might be reticent to come in. I don’t know why that is.
Len: Well that is strange because on a Saturday morning most of our customers are men! I would say up until ten o’clock, ninety percent of our customers are men. They seem to get up early, get the paper, get the bread and pop in and get the meat.
RL: So you seem to be able to handle the competition of the supermarkets then?
Len: Well yes. I did fear when they opened the one out the back but it didn’t increase our business and it didn’t decrease it. It really didn’t make any difference. And when the one opened at the bottom of West Street, similarly it didn’t increase or decrease our trade. I think that one is more for people travelling up to London who pop in there of a paper, a sandwich and a can of drink. Because there is a lot of sheltered accommodation round here, the elderly people, they shop daily. A lot of the time you see the same people day after day after day. You don’t see them on Saturday. Saturday is different people, probably the people who work up in London during the week, and then they buy for the week.
RL: Are there any limitations on what you sell.
Len: We sell anything and everything but the thing is being able to sell enough of it to make a profit. There are some meats we do but we don’t do them all the time because if we had it all the time we wouldn’t sell it all. An example would be calves liver which we only get in every now and then. If we had it every week we wouldn’t sell it, but if we get it once in a blue moon, people see it and say, oh, I’ll have some of that.
RL: You obviously have enough business to keep three of you employed. All you all fulltime?
Len: No, John and I are full time, and then Bruce and Nick are part-time. On Tuesday market day you need three, Friday three, Saturday three but on the other days you really only need two.
RL: Well right, thanks for that, Len. As I have gazed on the pies and the many meats I am rapidly coming a fan of ‘buy-local’. I hope you get many more ‘converts’. Thank you again.