Peacocks, Collingwood Crescent, Guildford, Surrey, GU1 2PF
Go there for: Fresh bread, Loseley bakery quiche and pastries, deli items, local sausages, bacon and fresh produce, and Isle of Mull cheddar.
Avoid: Getting there too late for bread, which is often sold out by lunchtime.
Is it worth the calories?: Depends what you make when you get home!
Tips: This is a cash or cheque only trading post. No cards.
As part of my masters’ degree in food policy I studied the demise of corner food shops and the domination of supermarkets. Armed with this new food shopping radicalism I sought out the small retailers to spend my hard earned cash, to keep money in the local community. Luckily, Peacocks was on my doorstep.
Jeremy and Gregory Peacock opened the shop in 1984 on advice from their dad who had a successful career in retail. Their ethos has been to keep it small and manageable, although holidays (they both sighed) can be hard to factor in. Pressure to open on Sundays has been resisted and, really, who can blame them? If you got up at 3am to buy fresh fruit and vegetables 3 times a week, you would say no too.
Local produce in high on the agenda here: potatoes, carrots, cabbages and broccoli come from a farm in Deal, just over the border in Kent. Farms like this don’t like selling small amounts to little shops, so they have to buy them at the wholesale market. They also buy imported fruits like pineapples, bananas, figs and papaya.
They also sell bread from Hillyers of Farncombe, sausages and bacon from award-winning butchers A & R Baileys, and dairy products from Loseley and Tims Dairy. The delicatessen counter has meats and charcuterie and over 30 cheeses, including Isle of Mull cheddar. This full-on mature cheddar is made from organic unpasteurized milk in Tobermory and owes its unique flavour to the cow’s diet of grass and whisky grains. Try a sample: it’s delicious.
Peacock’s doesn’t break boundaries in gourmet food retailing but it does offer a good range of quality products at a competitive price. I buy ham and sliced chorizo here along with essentials like milk from West Horsley dairy and local eggs; it’s often cheaper and better quality than the big retailers. Regulars tell you that if they aren’t well the brothers will pop round with milk or a loaf or bread!
When a big supermarket opened a few years ago the brothers’ trade dropped but they sense that people want to support local shops and they have renewed confidence for the future. Peacocks is more than just your average grocers and by supporting them we can ensure its continued success.
01483 829 768