Something exciting is happening in Ancoats. Over the last 12 months, independents like Rudy’s Pizza have joined existing gems like the Crown and Kettle to plant the seeds for the future of the area. But while your casual dining and drinking are being more than catered for, Ancoats’ apartment dwellers have had less choice when it comes to groceries.
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Since the Northern Quarter’s Superstore closed, the city centre has lacked somewhere that caters for both Stella and Siren drinkers. Warburton’s Toastie and focaccia eaters. Consequently, the announcement that the ex-Superstore owners were launching General Stores in Salford and Ancoats has come as welcome news to many residents.
Mital Morar was born into retail. His father was the “go-to” man for his customers, and Mital wants Ancoats General Store to occupy a similar space in the community.
“We know we have competition from the likes of Tesco and Aldi, but we want to offer more what they can’t and cater to the clientele around us in the Northern Quarter and Ancoats.”
With aspirations to recreate the magic of Superstore, this naturally begs the question, why did he close his prime NQ unit?
“I think we got away from what we were about, which is retail. When the restaurant side of things grew, the store suffered. With our units in Ancoats, Salford and Moss Side, we want to get back to what we do best”.
The balance is very important here. Mital’s craft beer range features the likes of Chorlton Brew Co, Siren, Brewdog, Runaway and Thornbridge – but he also stocks Stella and other mass produced beers. To some, this may seem hypocritical, but General Store is all about giving everyone a choice. The choice to enjoy the products they always have, or, to enjoy something new.
Those who support independent suppliers can expect a regularly rotating selection of beers, wines and spirits. Mital wants to offer them something bespoke not boring. Whether it’s beautiful flowers from Castlefield’s Masako, bread from Robinson’s and Swan House bakery or meat from local butchers, this shop prides itself on paying attention to what its customers want from a local convenience store.
Taking your regular supermarket products as read, what else does Ancoats General Store have to offer?
Well, for starters, Mital intends to utilise the spacious unit and set up a bar. Working with Jamie from Ancoats Coffee Co, the store has created an environment where a dozen or so people can sit comfortably and enjoy coffee from a local roaster.
“We already sell Ancoats Coffee Co beans and although we’ll be serving their coffee, it won’t be as specialist as the coffee available in their cafe just down the road. But it’s good to give people the space to enjoy quality coffee at their convenience.”
If that wasn’t enough to elevate it above other local shops, they are also planning on installing draught lines with a view to eventually hosting meet the brewer and wine tasting evenings.
“The idea is we get involved with the community and give our customers a chance to meet and get to know our suppliers”.These additional developments look set to happen over the next month or two but, for the time being at least, the retail side of the store is the main priority.
The team here are anxious but excited. The passion is evident and, given time, Ancoats General Store could be a lot of things to a lot of people. And to top it all off, they’re installing a free cash machine. Hallelujah! Ancoats has been crying out for one for a long, long time.