Better Food Company on the Bristol Pound

See what one of our most popular businesses, The Better Food Company, feel about being a Bristol Pound business:

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What is The Better Food Company?

The Better Food Company is an award-winning micro chain that has been serving the best local, organic and ethically produced food to the people of Bristol for over ten years. It comprises of a large shop and café in St Werburghs and a food hall and deli on Whiteladies Road in Clifton.

Owner and MD, Phil Haughton is also an active trustee of the Soil Association, and has spent more than 25 years working with organic food and farming in the South West. He is also on the board of The Community Farm, and even raises his own turkeys for the Christmas market ‘because no one else did it to my standards!’ he adds.

In fact Better Food was at the heart of launching The Community Farm, a Community Supported Agriculture venture in the nearby Chew Valley, whose produce is sold in both shops and used in the café.

How did The Better Food Company become aware of the Bristol Pound?

The first official notification that The Bristol Pound was on its way was when Ciaran (£B Director) came in to tell us about it early in 2012. Even back then, rumours were circulating, and it was obvious that we would be involved. Our customers would have insisted, even if we hadn’t wanted to!

Why did The Better Food Company decide to get involved?

Better Food Company were keen in be involved because the arguments concerning local economic sustainability are compelling. As well as being committed to organic and sustainable food production, we’re also committed to keeping things as local as possible, working with small producers and independent businesses.

 We were also keen to try out new technologies – the Text2Pay scheme in particular. We know that in the near future people will be paying in a variety of new ways, so this seemed like a perfect opportunity to see how it might work. It’s been simple and glitch free, even in deepest St Werburghs, where there are sometimes problems with mobile phone reception.

The Bristol Pound venture has also been a good marketing opportunity and a great way to ally ourselves with like minded businesses. It’s exciting to be part of such an ambitious and committed scheme right from the start.

What has been the experience of getting it working from a business point of view?

This was our biggest hurdle, to be honest. We were all very keen in principal. In practice, this is unchartered territory. We have three business areas operating over two sites with eight tills. The thought of treating the Bristol Pound as a separate currency was extremely daunting. How would the VAT work? How would we fit two different currencies in our tills? How would we reconcile the banking?

How is it working at the moment?

After a slightly shaky start, we have found that just treating Bristol Pound notes as sterling has worked best. The Text2Pay system is quick and easy. The cash handling does take extra administrative time and we now have more bank accounts to manage, but on balance we think it’s worth it in order to participate in the scheme.

How has it impacted on business?

It certainly keeps money circulating within the local economy. One of our main suppliers, Essential Trading, accepts them, so that has been very smooth. It’s very easy to pay them via the online banking system.

What do staff think of it?

They love it! There’s always a bit of a buzz when a Bristol Pound sale goes through. And our tills are brightened by the beautiful notes.

A month in circulation

It is crazy how quickly the time has passed since the 19th September. The pace in the Bristol Pound office, is only now beginning to get back to normal. Although certain days are still filled up with local, national and international interviews, photographs and an exciting adrenaline of being part of such an innovative and growing project.

The real satisfaction comes when I walk up Gloucester Road to do my shopping and 90% of it I pay with in Bristol Pounds. TXT2PAY has become my addiction and it’s great to see the businesses enjoying the ease of it. Friends and supporters have commented on the enjoyment of just having to take out their mobile phone for shopping trips and nights out. This I can fully agree with after enjoying a night out last Saturday with only my phone as luggage.

Many of you, I am sure, have seen one or two of the beautiful paper pounds, passed them round while your having a drink with friends, but many of you may be asking how well it is actually doing. Well I can proudly report that already we have issued over £B 40,000 in the printed pounds along with a number just over £B20,000 in the electronic currency. I think you will agree that this is not at all bad for the first month in circulation!

 

Can’t sign up online? It’s still easy at Bristol Credit Union…

Here’s a new little film made by Jody, one of our volunteers, as she went down to Bristol Credit Union to open her Bristol Pound account. It’s nice to go into the credit union and enjoy a helpful banking service!

So if you haven’t been able to join online don’t be downhearted. there is still a way…

You can download the printed application form here

 

Oh what a night!

That evening we celebrated with the very first night market at St. Nicks, with live music, theatre and plenty of Bristol Pound trade. It was a beautiful night, with a buzzing atmosphere. The sound of a harp travelled along Exchange Avenue, where members of the Suitcase Sale, sold local treats from washing lines and suitcases.

Inside the glass arcade, music from the main stage echoed throughout the impressive building. Bristol’s singer songwriter, Lori Campbell, started the night off with a great ‘money’ medley, which had everyone laughing and singing along. Outside on Corn Street, people of all ages came to meet some of the Bristol Pound traders. Florists, farmers and furniture makers were a just few of the diverse businesses, which made up the unique market.

 

One of the highlights of the evening was a hilarious performance from the fantastic travelling clown company Le Navet Bete. People crowded into the glass arcade, to watch the clowns perform their renowned street show Extravaganza. The audience were all in hysterics, as one of the clowns balanced precariously on a giant uni-cycle, whilst another danced around him playing the accordion.

As the sun went down, people still patiently queued for their printed Bristol Pounds. The Old City looked spectacular under nets of fairy lights and coloured beams. People sat outside to eat meals bought with their Bristol Pounds. On the main stage, the Bristol Pound team proudly talked about the project and how amazing it was to see it already working.

The evening’s festivities finished with a good old knees up to sounds of Medicine Creek, a musical trio of Bristol’s finest. The crowd pulsed as people’s feet moved with the infectious gypsy beats. When the music finished, everyone was smiling and talking about the possibilities of Bristol having its own currency.

The whole day was a fantastic start to the Bristol Pound, with thousands of printed pounds already in circulation. But launch was just the beginning, TEXT2PAY is the fantastic Bristol Pound system that is quick, simple and secure, and once you start using it, I can guarantee you will be hooked! So go on spread the word, open those accounts and enjoy spending your Bristol Pounds.

 

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