10 Bridge Street, Walton-on-Thames, Surrey, KT12 1AA
A sassy grocery store in the heart of Walton-on-Thames.
Go there for: A grand selection of fresh produce, a smattering of intriguing groceries and some foodie treats.
Avoid: The nearby multinationals – support this award-winning local independent instead.
Is it worth the calories?: Absolutely! Send a lovely fruit box to a friend instead of chocolates – they’ll make one up for you and deliver it.
Tips: It’s on the one-way system but there’s some short-term parking round the corner. Closed on Thursday and Sunday.
The Naked Grocer was opened five years ago by energetic wholesale grocer Chris Bavin and his wife Millie. With some great ideas and boundless enthusiasm they created a shop to serve local residents, businesses and offices. Co-hosting ‘Eat Well For Less’ with Greg Wallace last summer plus a full time job means you will only find Chris in the shop on Saturdays. During the week Millie and his sister Jacqui manage the business.
Jane and I have learnt that ‘local’ for vegetables isn’t really always an option as the farmland here in Surrey isn’t the best for potatoes and other root veg. These are more likely to be grown in Kent or in Lincolnshire, where higher quality crops will prosper. It’s also a fact that local farms don’t like selling a bag a time to little independents but they do sell at wholesale markets. So Chris and Millie buy as much British fruit and veg as they can when it’s in season. Bananas and other exotics come from hotter countries.
They say the cost of fresh organic produce would be prohibitive, but they do sell top-quality fruit and veg. They stock some interesting supporting products, some of which are organic. On my last visit I picked up some organic cacao nibs and some Gran Luchito Mexican honey with chillies, which has just been featured in the Sunday papers as a must-have foodie gift. Also on offer was local untreated honey, a range of caramel sauces from local chocolate-maker Ildiko and jams made with a splash of Cretan olive oil from artisan producer The Olive Branch.
Their office fruit-box delivery scheme is a real hit. I can’t think of many people who wouldn’t prefer a lovely crunchy apple at work to replace the post-consumption guilt of calorie-rich biscuits or chocolates. Need to buy a gift for school or a business? Fruit is a much healthier and thoughtful gift. And if you live within three miles of the shop you can also take advantage of their veg-box delivery scheme.
For many of us a corner grocery store is a thing of the past but the lucky residents of Walton-on-Thames can pop into The Naked Grocer. Their business mantra is to be ‘Fresh, Friendly and Fair’ and one to which they stay true. As winners for two years running of the Re:fresh Independent Retailer of the year award a lot of other people think so too.