OPENING a business as the world stood on the brink of the Coronavirus pandemic must have been extremely bad timing if not catastrophic for many new enterprises.

But Food on the Loose - the family-run plastic free shop, which launched in Pokesdown in November 2019 has enjoyed huge success and is now the Bournemouth Echo Trader of the Week.

The business, situated on the junction of Christchurch Road and Harewood Avenue, has proven hugely popular whilst also getting residents to think about limiting their environmental impact by changing their shopping and eating habits.

Food on the Loose is owned by Jane Simkins who runs it with her two daughters Jennie Simkins and Maxime Noble.

Jennie said: "Business during the pandemic has been phenomenal. The support from the local community and our customers has been amazing and with all the support we’ve been able to grow bigger and add more stock more variety. "

She added that during this time - particularly when people were panic buying in the supermarkets, they have been "very busy. We went from working with one person in the shop to two and three people. We all worked as hard as we could to keep the shop running and to stop the queues from outside the shop getting too long it was quite an impressive time and it’s not something we’ve been through before and I’d like to think at the end we have come out with a bigger customer base and see a lot of regular faces."

The plastic free shop stocks a wide variety of loose food, herbs, tea and coffee, as well as a large filling station for household cleaning products and toiletries.

Jennie, who lives in Springbourne said: “I thought it up over three years ago, before refill shops were even a thing. I used to think ‘why couldn’t you go to a shop and refill everyday items like shampoo and things like that? Then plastic free shops started to take off and it has taken that long for my idea to get off the ground and to find the right items we want to sell in our store.”

Their vision was that, through small changes to how people shop, people would not only eat healthier but reduce their own individual impact on the environment.

“People were saying to us that they used to do their shopping online but after seeing the sorts of things we have on offer, want to change their shopping habits and come and visit us, which is one of the main reasons why we set it up,” said Jennie.

Although the shop has paper bags for shoppers to use, they encourage customers to bring in their own pots to collect their desired products.

The independent shop has been open for just over a year now after taking three years of planning. They have gone above and beyond during the pandemic helping the local community who have been shielding or unable to go far for shopping with deliveries and collection of pre ordered shopping. They have also expanded their range considerably during the last year to help out and have a great range of Vegan, Gluten free food for special diets.

They sell a huge range of loose food, every day essentials, delicious and unique freezer foods and a large chiller full of fresh vegetables and refillable milk from Award winning Dorset Dairy Meggy Moo’s. Along with Food they have an extension range of household liquids refills from washing up liquid to body wash and continue to increase this range every month to suit everyone’s needs.

They have just started to stock a refillable organic face wash / cream range from a local Bournemouth company which is the first in Dorset. They also stock a large range of eco friendly gifts - which could be perfect for Mother's Day.

They invite everyone to make small changes in their household and reduced your plastic for a better future.

Food on the Loose also take part in the Terra Cycle Scheme where you can drop off your waste to be recycled and re used. They are currently accepting Crisp Packets, Snack pouches, Crackers, Chocolate wrappers. Bring them down all cleaned out and they can recycle them for you.

"If we all make just small changes, then collectively we can make a real difference," says Jennie.

1050 Christchurch Road