Retail News

Successful US chain inspires new Ballymena shop

Glen Houston of Granny Shaw’s Trading Post.

Award-winning fudge makers Glen and Rhonda Houston of Granny Shaw’s Fudge in Co Antrim have opened a new food venture during the lockdown, inspired by a US store concept.

The couple from Ahoghill has established Granny Shaw’s Trading Post in Ballymena, retailing their hand-cut kettle-churned fudge alongside food and drink from other local artisan producers.

The venture is influenced by Trader Joe’s, a chain of neighbourhood grocery stores operating across 42 US states and a leader in ‘fresh format’ stores.

The couple previously owned Northern Ireland’s only fudge factory and visitor centre, Granny Shaw’s, on the historic Glenarm Estate Co Antrim.

“While we loved the setting in the estate and were well treated by the team there we became concerned about the impact of the coronavirus on footfall from tourism and especially the many events organised there including the hugely successful Dalriada Festival,” said Glen.

“Tourism has effectively dried up for this year and most of the events have been postponed. We just had to move to a location which offered greater numbers of shoppers and thereby enable us to sustain and grow our business. I’d always been keen on running my own food business. Granny Shaw’s Trading Post is a dream come true for both of us.”

They quickly found premises in Ballymena’s Tower Centre. “This gave us an opportunity to review our business model, strengthen our appeal to shoppers and thereby ensure our long-term future,” he said.

In addition to the couple’s signature fudge, the shop stocks Erne Larder’s Bacon Jam and Ketchup, Amber Catering and Cakes, Papas Mineral Cordials, Ruby’s Fine Foods, Kennedy Bacon and Long Meadow Apple Cider Vinegar alongside cheeses, sausages, oils, balsamic vinegars and curry sauces.

“We are immensely excited by the trading post because we believe it’s something very different in Ballymena,” said Glen.

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