First Impression : Twenty Fifty
'To do nothing but grumble and not to act - that is throwing away one's life.' - William Morris
Twenty Fifty is a new zero waste shop on the scuffed main road that runs through Old Colwyn. From a standing start it took six months of love and craft to put the venture together; every detail was honed and worked on until flawless - even the polished wood of the floor had four weeks of undivided attention.
The business is run by Laura Fletcher, her sister, Nicky Morley, and Nicky's husband, Lee. It is the trio's first step into retail, sparked by a phone call between the two siblings that suddenly hardened existing environmental concern into practical action. Laura quickly recalled the precise moment when asked,
"One day I was on the phone to Nicky just as she was doing her recycling. She said, 'There's just so much plastic going into this!', and I replied that we need a zero waste shop to go to." She paused, then continued laughing at the thought, "And then I just said, 'We should open one'. That's how it started."
Now that initial spontaneous idea has become a concrete reality.
Step inside the shop, and the layout is simple. The two long sidewalls are dense with jars and produce, with a till at the far end. Fruit and vegetables are displayed in a low central aisle. Toiletry and laundry items are found on the shelves and in baskets. It is very well stocked, with no clutter. Prices are good, the products are excellent.
Twenty Fifty somehow sells twice as many things as you'd imagine from just looking at the shopfront, but still has an edifying sense of space inside. There is a lot of natural wood, punctuated by slabs of radiant green tiles; if it wasn't a shop, it would be a room you could sit in and daydream.
As intended, there is no extraneous packaging. Still, the process to buy is as elegant as the layout. You weigh your container on the sophisticated scales, fill it with food, weigh it again, then pay. Beyond the evident lack of plastic, most of the produce is organic or otherwise environmentally friendly.
Location must have been a concern, but as Laura explained an opportunity they had forced them to a fortuitous decision,
"We were lucky - when we formed our original ambition we already had access to this shop, as Lee and Nicky had it to use as office space for their existing energy-saving business." She reflected, "Without that, we might have thought of Conwy or Llandudno as a better place, but it has worked out perfectly - it's easier to shop in Old Colwyn, locals come in and support us, and other people are willing to travel a long way to get here."
Her comments were reinforced immediately by experience - I was there early in the day, and once the doors opened there was a constant low hum of contented customers.
It is not hard to see why they come. An ethical shop is only ever going to be one element of a good life, but it is important - built on passion and commitment as North Wales' first zero waste emporium, Twenty Fifty is brilliantly realised and worth a very long detour to visit.
For more information visit Twenty Fifty's Facebook page.