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Shop Talk


Two small businesses share the secrets to their success, including bucking the trend and growing an ‘octopus business’.





Season's eatings


At Rossiters, Birmingham’s original organic butcher, an artisanal approach and dedication to provenance keeps the customers crowding in well beyond Christmas.


STEPHEN ROSSITER HAS been in the ‘butcher business’ since he was 14, but it took a customer with food intolerances to walk through his Birmingham shop door in 1998 – way before awareness of such dietary requirements was mainstream – for him to realise the truth of the old maxim that we are what we eat.

“A lady came in with intolerances to pork and it was basically down to what the pigs were being fed,” he remembers. “It prompted me to look into where I could guarantee that they were fed on rolled oats and organically, which suited her diet.”


Following personal research and connections made through a local farmer, master butcher Rossiter registered his shop with the Soil Association and 25 years on, the business remains the city’s most popular organic butcher. This point of difference has worked in favour of Rossiters, which has continued to grow its customer base with the public’s rising interest in food provenance and animal welfare. Rossiter says: “Because we operate in a niche area, we get a lot of customers travelling from further afield than just the locality. Every Christmas, our business has increased to almost saturation point.” And that’s not such a bad problem to have.



When it comes to choosing your Christmas turkey, colour counts. Rossiters sells three different turkeys: a traditional white bird; the prized KellyBronze; and another bronze by organic Berkshire producer Walters Turkeys. “The KellyBronze and organic birds are free-range and slow-growing,” says Rossiter. “And because they’re aged, they’ve got quite a good layer of fat, which helps them cook quicker. So, for example, a 5kg turkey will cook in just two hours.”


For those cooking on a smaller scale, Rossiter recommends buying cuts rather than a whole bird. “You can have breast roast, which is the boneless turkey breast – have it prepared by your local butcher and wrap it in streaky bacon. It cooks quicker and is less fuss. Alternatively, you can barbecue the legs, or spatchcock a turkey and grill it,
flattened out on a barbie like a chicken.”


Regardless of the breed, fresh is best, he emphasises, and it also comes down to how you cook it. As a traditionalist, Rossiter favours hot turkey served with different stuffings and sides plus cranberry, bread or apple sauce, or cold with pickles and red cabbage. “You can turn leftovers into a curry or make a filling for Mexican-style burritos,” he adds. “But for me, turkey is best cooked and eaten in its purest form.”





Not a fan of the big bird? Here are three alternatives to serve this Christmas Day.



Best for: True traditionalists.How to cook: In the oven on a rack abovea roasting tray
to catch the valuable fat. Serve with: Goose fat roasted potatoes; apple
sauce; honey-glazed parsnips; shredded cabbage with kale and rainbow chard. Butcher’s tip: “Goose goes back in history as the traditional centrepiece of the
Christmas table,” says Rossiter. “It’s a stronger flavoured meat, quite rich and fatty, so more forgiving. You’d have to cremate it to spoil it! It won’t yield as much meat as turkey, however – the frame of the bird is different, so there’s notas much carving on it.”



Best for: A festive meal, cooked on the fly. How to cook: Sear in a frying pan until the skin is crispy and the flesh is pink, or brown off in the oven to finish, if you prefer. Serve with: Cranberry sauce; a traybake of sweet potato, swede, celeriac, red onion, garlic and thyme topped with pomegranate. Butcher’s tip: “I love duck for the dark, succulent meat. The breasts are good if you’re time-poor as the fillets cook very quickly.”



Best for: Making a statement.How to cook: Roast in the oven. Use a meat thermometer in the thickest part of the meat to ensure a perfect rare (50°C),
medium-rare (54°C) or medium roast (58°C).Serve with: Roasted root vegetables with a maple and pomegranate glaze; Christmas greens with smoked bacon lardons, red onion, garlic and Bramley apple.Butcher’s tip: “Invest in a dry-aged rib witha nice covering of fat and some marbling in it, to keep it moist and flavoursome.” 

Rossiters butchers


Manchester's Plant Shop


Cultivating a business


For Emma Nosurak of Manchester’s Plant Shop, diversifying her retail space has been vital for growth.


COULD THE KEY to pulling customers through your door lie in an Insta-worthy pooch? For Emma Nosurak, founder of Plant Shop, a bright, leafy store selling pot plants, candles and eco-friendly products in Stockport, just outside Manchester, it hasn’t hurt. Her black poodle-Bichon Frise, Herbie Hancock, is a regular fixture of her social media accounts and has a starring role on Plant Shop’s website. “You know, it’s great he’s there front and centre – people really want to come into the shop to meet him,” says Nosurak. “But he’s a diva!”


The point here, of course, is the power of social media to drive foot traffic into a brick-and-mortar business. Nosurak, who started her business after being inspired by Fitzroy Nursery in Melbourne on a 2016 trip to Australia,credits social media platforms, Instagram in particular, with helping drive up to 70 per cent of her customers into her shop.


“For me, Instagram has been a fantastic way tobe creative and to speak my mind daily to my customers.” With a background in the music industry, Nosurak had previously spent a decade learning how to use Instagram and Twitter to connect with audiences and to promote gigs and music events. When she switched careers and started Plant Shop with just 100 cacti she’d bought online, the botanical trend was just taking off. Her instincts were good and her timing even better. “The business just snowballed from there,” she says.



In Melbourne, Nosurak had taken heed of the plant pop-ups and maker’s markets around the city, and wassoon incorporating similar community-building activities into her own business. “When I first opened the shop, I had to have a few little add-ons,” she says. “We’ve got beautiful independent businesses in Stockport, but when I first moved here, a few people were sceptical. I got an alcohol licence added to the lease and we have events with DJs where you can come and buy a plant and have a nice glass of natural wine or a decent beer and mingle with fellow customers.”


There are regular workshops in ceramics, pottery and wreath-making – including festive events in the lead up to Christmas – plus plants and an events space for hire, as well as a new outlet in a reinvigorated shopping centre in Sale. Nosurak has also expanded her product offering. Alongside the greenery, categorised online as ‘Pet Friendly, ‘Air Purifying’ or ‘Hard to Kill’, is the Everyday Range of eco- and vegan-friendly detergents, the result of a collaboration with Fill, a Northamptonshire company specialising in refillable cleaning products.


“I call it an ‘octopus business’,” says Nosurak. “You’ve always got to have different streams of income coming in to keep growing and developing.”




Go green this Christmas


Emma Nosurak is passionate about sustainability. Here are her ideas and tips to make it a greener festive season.



“We’ve noticed more people asking for potted Christmas trees that they can keep in the garden and use again as opposed to single-use trees. As an alternative, we like to offer Araucaria heterophylla, aka Norfolk Island pine. It’s a beautiful living Christmas tree that drops no needles. Central heating is a plant killer, drying plants out, so we tend to stock less leafy styles during the colder months, but Christmas cacti are very popular – they can handle both heating and cold, and flower from October into the new year.”



“Around Christmas, there’s an appetite for anything crafty, and workshops where people can make their own decorations and wreaths. This year, we’re doing a workshop out ofour Stockport store with an organisation called Plastic Shed, teaching how to make decorations out of things like milk bottle lids. Just a donation is asked for, and there’ll be snacks and drinks.”



“Paper chains can be great, and this year we’re getting in recycled wrapping paper. Old-school glass baubles are my favourite decorations, sourced from car boot sales and charity shops.” 

Emma Nosurak
Plant Shop