“We see happy customers say, “Oh, this is a lovely shop!”
We came here from Poland because we were really young and looking for adventure. We had just finished school and we didn’t have anything when we came here. Our friends’ dad was running the Polish shop in the Square. He decided to retire and sell the shop, and we thought, this is a good place for a Polish shop.
I don’t know what we were thinking! We were young and crazy. We didn’t have any experience; we didn’t have much money; we didn’t even have a driving license! Our husbands, before work they drove us here. They came with us in the morning, they went to their jobs, and after work picked us up. And then it was back to bed. Those were long days! We would be here at 9 o’clock and for the first year we closed at 9’oclock or ten.
We worked together for 6 years, just the two of us. It was really hard for the first few years. Because we thought that we would open the shop and everything would be great, but it was completely different. But we learned, and now we are really good at it. Now it’s much easier; we don’t need to be here all day from morning to night. Of course we’re still thinking about it all the time though.
People come and they’re buying bread, cheese, sausages, ham, everything actually. Mostly are customers are Polish but also lots of English customers, local ones, visit us, and they buy our bread, sausage, weekly now. Our tradition is the village sausage. English people like this as well. It’s like a homemade sausage with lots of garlic. It’s not spicy but it’s smoked. So it’s really traditional. The dry sausage, as well, is very popular. And when we are doing an order, we have to check the weather. We need more sausages for barbeque weather!
We sell lots of cheese. We have smoked cheese, cheese with herbs… lots of cheeses! And bread… Different from English bread, which is quite spongy, good for toast. But what we eat in Poland is harder and denser, and when you eat two slices, it’s enough! So we have fresh bread from a Polish baker every day. Bread, doughnuts, pastries, fresh cakes – like Apple cake and Polish cheesecake. And we do birthday cakes for ordering, and first communion.
We sell frozen food, and veg and fruits. We sell Polish varieties like Raspberry Tomatoes, for example, and we have parsnips that are different to the English variety. Our traditional Polish Sunday soup is chicken soup and you can’t have chicken soup without parsnip. But ours has got a completely different taste – you can’t find it in England.
And we sell Polish alcohol – beer, vodka, wine. We have apple beer – it’s not cider, it has an apple taste. It’s very good for the summer. And cherry vodka is very popular for Christmas.
We order some things especially for Easter and Christmas. Like fish, for example. On Christmas Eve in Poland we have carp. Lots of English people, they don’t like this! ‘What? Carp? You’re eating carp? Oh my goodness!’ You can’t get this anywhere here, so a month before Christmas people place their orders and we order from our Polish food supplier in London.
We are always bringing in new products. We sell Polish cosmetics and Polish-language medicines. We have really good quality eco-honey from Poland. And we have a Polish-language community board for our customers.
We are really close with our customer, I think. And we see happy customers say ‘oh, this lovely shop, oh I love this food, thank you!’ Sometimes people say ‘Maybe you can find this for me please, because I’m looking for this product…’ And always we try to help people if they are looking for some special thing. So we order for them and they are really grateful. We like that about the shop.
We are happy with what we do. People like us. Lots of our customers have been with us for twelve years already. We know all their family, all their stories, how their children are growing and everything. And they know us, the same – we have children, our family. We are really close with them. We’re happy here. I can’t imagine what else we could do now.