Jim Harbridge, owner of Herbies, talks about looking after customers and the planet
“It’s vital that just because a product is sustainable and is good for the environment, it should also be of the utmost quality’ said Jim Harbridge, who took over The Southsea Health food store in 2019, before rebranding the shop, – Herbies. ‘The shop began as a market store in the 1970’s selling herbs and spices run by Tony who became known as Herbie. When Tony opened the shop that’s what is was called – Herbies, I just thought it was only right to reinstate the name, said Jim.
“Organic and sustainable produce is no longer a niche side-line and I have been pleasantly surprised at the range of products I’ve been able to increasingly stock. My other concern has been plastic packaging but again, suppliers are starting to use more compostable packets and containers, to the point that I’m going to stop selling certain brands that continue to use plastic. The other area that we’ve been able to expand, is the re-fill offering, so that customers can either bring in their own container or we can supply them. So far, we have re-fill laundry liquid, washing-up liquid, surface cleaner and personal care products, but we are expanding the range all the time, its cheaper for the customer and better for the environment of course.
“We are also watching our product travel miles. There’s actually lots of items that can be sourced locally, for example our beautiful hand soaps are made just round the corner in Francis Avenue, I don’t think you could get much closer than that,’ laughed Jim.
So why can’t supermarkets do the same? “In many ways the supermarkets are looking towards the independent shops for ideas and trends and then it’s just a matter of them seeing if they can scale everything up. I’m happy for supermarkets to copy us if it means we move to a more sustainable way of producing food and household products.
Any plans for the future? Although it seems a long way off, we are already planning for Christmas and I’m sourcing sustainable gifts and hampers. Plus, it’ll be good to expand our deliveries, or our click & collect service. In short providing the best service we can for our customers and the planet.
Herbies Health Store
241 Albert Road, Southsea PO4 0JR