What can you tell us about The Only Weigh Out?
The Only Weigh Out is a convenient plastic-free, zero-waste supermarket. The idea is to bring your own container and pay by weight – buying as little or as much as you need, at competitive prices.
We sell almost 300 products including herbs and spices, dried fruits, pasta and rice, lentils, grains and pulses, flour and baking goods, free-range eggs, cereals, loose leaf tea and coffee beans, nuts and seeds, oils and vinegars, award-winning honey, soaps, shampoo bars, household cleaning goods, toilet roll, sweets and more.
We aim to source as locally as possible and continually try to support as many local suppliers as we can.
Our greatest intention is to make sure our store is as convenient and affordable as possible, so we incorporate both organic and non-organic products as we believe buying plastic-free should be accessible to all.
You’re a relatively new business, what measures have you had to put in place to ensure local people can get their essentials without having to brave the big supermarkets?
Our utmost concern is to protect our customers, so we quickly adopted a proactive approach and closed our doors before the lockdown was officially implemented.
Although this resulted in an initial loss of turnover, it afforded us time to formulate a plan to ensure that our customers – and those most vulnerable – were protected and able to get what they needed from us without risk.
We created a website whereby people could order what they need from us online and either collect it or have it delivered. In order to ensure safety in collection, we built a counter out of the front of the shop, which was generously completed by Labman Automation, who donated a protective Perspex screen.
We also created a ‘TS9 Support Group for Self-Isolated People’ to connect everyone within the postcode so that they can help each other through the unnerving times.
How are you ensuring a safe working environment?
When we’re not at the store, myself and my partner Adam have been self-isolating to make sure we don’t get the virus, ensuring we can still provide a service to our customers.
If anyone pays at the door, we encourage people to use contactless (where possible). When delivering, we sanitise our hands before dropping products at each house, ring the doorbell, step back and wait to ensure the customer has received their goods.
You recently won Britain’s Most Innovative Small Business award at The Telegraph Lockdown Awards. What does this mean for a new, local business – particularly in such uncertain times?
We received a phone call from The Daily Telegraph in May, who informed us that several people had nominated us for ‘Britain’s Most Innovative Small Business’ and out of the top 50 chosen in the country, we were shortlisted in the top three.
We couldn’t believe it when we found out we had won! We were absolutely speechless – particularly since we had only been up-and-running for four months. The nicest thing about it is that our customers have recognised how important it is to us to keep them protected and I think that’s the nature of community; you know everyone by name and you look after those around you.
That’s what’s missed in the supermarkets. By creating this safe service, we have gained many new customers. Through being able to see everything online, they have realised the huge range of products we offer.
There are millions of people all over the world who have been unsung heroes and so many have looked after their neighbours. That’s the greatest thing for us, that people are rediscovering the meaning of community – and we are just fortunate that our efforts were noticed.
We want to say a huge thank you to everyone who has supported us before and throughout the pandemic. We are so fortunate to have been able to appease the difficulties people have faced, in any means whatsoever.
What kind of feedback have you had from the local community?
The feedback we have received since we opened our doors is absolutely incredible.
Not only the overwhelming positivity and gratefulness, but the level of sincerity and concern people have for us as a business, is just wonderful. We are ever so lucky to be a part of such a wonderful community here in Stokesley – and I think during times like these, you really appreciate the people around you.
Can you give us a simple store cupboard recipe for our readers to try at home?
Here is one of the wonderful recipes from Elizabeth Homan from Barefoot Kitchen CIC in Middlesbrough – a social enterprise inspiring communities in the Tees Valley through food growing, cooking and sharing, from plot to plate. Enjoy!
Walnut, sage & pea risotto >>
This is a fantastic, simple recipe that can be easily doubled or halved. When cooled, it can be kept for three days in the fridge.
Leftovers can be made into arancini – balls of risotto dipped in breadcrumbs and fried – lush!
To make it vegan, simply miss out the parmesan and replace the butter with a dairy-free alternative. The walnuts, sage and peas can be substituted for other seasonal produce.
1 glass of white wine (optional)
2 tsp dried sage (or a small handful of fresh sage, chopped finely)
Handful of walnuts
Glug of oil
1 white onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 small glass of white wine
1.5 pints of hot veg stock
Handful of frozen peas
Good grating of parmesan cheese (optional – or can be replaced with cheddar)
Knob of butter
Squeeze of lemon
In a pan (don’t worry about what type of pan – I’ve cooked risotto in frying pans, saucepans and a wok in the past), add a glug of oil followed by the onion and gently cook down until softened.
Add the garlic and stir through.
Next, add the rice, stir through, turn the heat up and slowly pour in the wine.
Once the wine has almost evaporated, stir through the sage. Slowly add the hot stock, just covering the rice.
Turn the heat low and let the risotto gently bubble away until the rice has absorbed nearly all of the stock.
Pour over more hot stock. Keep repeating this process until the rice is cooked through and you have a fairly loose risotto.
On the last addition of stock, add the frozen peas.
Meanwhile, bash up the walnuts and pop into a dry frying pan over a medium heat, then stir continuously so the nuts do not burn.
When lightly toasted, remove from the heat.
Add the nuts, parmesan, butter and lemon to the risotto and stir through until combined.
Add salt and pepper to taste.
Serve up with crusty bread and a bowl of seasonal salad.
For more environmentally-friendly foodie inspiration, visit: barefootkitchencic.com
What’s next for The Only Weigh Out?
We are very excited to begin our next chapter. With the help of the exceptional chef and food knowledge wizard, Elizabeth Homan of Barefoot Kitchen CIC, we are going to be offering recipe boxes to enable people to reap the full benefits of our products.
We have some surprises coming up and can’t wait to share them with everyone. We are also going to be selling wines, beers, chutneys and jams very soon.
Stay tuned, Stokesley.