14 Nov 2019

Indies Making a Difference: Cavanagh & Baker

Indies Making a Difference: Cavanagh & Baker

Cavanagh & Baker, an Isle of Wight retail store, are an indie making a difference. The retail shop that opened in May 2019 only stock produce that is made on the Isle of Wight to help support the community and contribute to a circular economy.

The idea of Cavanagh & Baker was born when owner Jack Cavanagh went to send a care package to his grandparents in Liverpool. Jack said, “My grandmother and grandfather used to live on the Isle of Wight and make their own jams, chutneys and wines. I wanted to gather these local items to remind them of home, but it wasn’t as easy as I thought. I had to drive to every corner of the island to find everything. I quickly realised there was a gap in the market for a retail store that only stocked locally sourced produce.”

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Cavanagh & Baker have a very diverse range of sustainable gifts and products. They sell 24 different wines, as well as cheeses, jams, chutneys, jars, butter, art and more. Jack said, “We’ve designed the shop so that everything flows into each other. We decorate the walls with the art and photography that we are selling. We have a great mix of established brands like Mermaid Gin and smaller independent suppliers and artists.”

Sustainability is key to the independent retail store. The Isle of Wight is covered in stunning beaches and parks and Cavanagh & Baker feel obliged to protect them. Jack said, “We don’t use any plastic in our shop. Our products are coming from the lady down the road, so they don’t need to be wrapped up in loads of plastic packaging and shipped a long way in refrigerated trucks. Our paper bags are made in-house, so we can monitor the process. They are biodegradable and compostable, and the ink is water soluble. It takes a lot of time, but this way we can ensure we aren’t harming the environment.”

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Independent retail stores looking to become more eco-friendly need to think strongly about whether, or not, they are sourcing sustainably says Jack, “It’s important to source products from reliable suppliers that allow you to be a part of the decision-making process. Small changes like switching plastic bags to bags that can be recycled is also an easy first step. If we can do it on a small island like the Isle of Wight, I’m sure it can be done elsewhere.”

For Cavanagh & Baker, stocking sustainable, locally sourced produce can be a little bit more expensive, but this doesn’t translate into less sales. Jack explained, “We have overcome the extra costs by explaining our story. Our customers are supporting someone who lives a couple of streets away or in the next town. We give out a small flyer to explain that it might cost a little bit more, but the value we get back is better for everyone. Our customers are supporting the entire community, they don’t mind spending one or two pounds more when we explain that.”

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Looking for more advice around sustainability and your retail store? Jack Cavanagh is speaking in a panel at Spring Fair this February, ‘Why Independents are Leading the Charge Toward Sustainable Retail’ at 12am on the 4th February on the Inspiring Retail Stage. Register for your free ticket here.

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