An organic clothing and toy shop in Alcester with customers from as far away as Italy will soon be selling zero-waste food alongside its other ethically-sourced products.
Molly’s Cotton Tails, owned by lifelong Alcester resident Sara Palmer, has answered the growing calls of customers to sell food in a sustainable manner with minimal packaging.
Customers will visit the shop in High Street with their own containers, fill them up with whatever food they want to buy – such as pasta, rice, cereals and nuts – and pay at the counter.
The shop already stocks clothing for children and adults made from organic cotton, as well as eco-friendly toys and zero-waste cleaning products.
Its commitment to its environmental values and the high quality of its products has earned the business a loyal set of customers - one who moved away to Italy still buys from Molly’s Cotton Tails.
Sara is aiming to offer zero-waste food to customers by the end of September, and feels it will be an important addition to the business.
She said: “In the last couple of years, many of our customers have suggested we add zero-waste food to the shop.
“While some people might think selling food is quite different to selling clothes and toys, it’s that sustainable ethos that our customers care about, and they will be happy to get it in one place if they can.
“I think it will be an extra string to our bow – and who knows, if we get another lockdown, I think being able to sell food will help keep us afloat.
“Our customers have been so loyal to us over the years, and especially during the lockdown, so this is partially a way of thanking them for their support.”
Sara founded her business through looking to buy sustainably sourced clothes for her daughter, Molly.
An off-the-cuff comment from Sara’s godmother, who said Sara should be selling those kinds of clothes instead of buying them, inspired her to start the business.
She named the shop ‘Molly’s Cotton Tails’ after her daughter, and opened it on Alcester’s High Street four years ago.
Sara was able to build up a very strong base of customers, as many people looking for sustainable products like to stick with one place if it can provide what they need.
But the pandemic presented a huge challenge to the business. Sara had to step back from running it for a time, as she had to look after Molly, 5, and her son Noah, 3.
Her husband Leigh worked full-time, so it would have impractical for Sara to try and run the business fully while looking after their children.
However, many new, local customers were able to order online, and Sarah took it upon herself to deliver their orders during the pandemic.
“This kept the business going, and introduced more people in Alcester to us who might not otherwise have visited the shop,” Sara added.
Now the lockdown has been lifted, Sara is cautiously optimistic about her business’s future.
She said: “We’re not quite at pre-lockdown levels of business yet, but we’re not doing too badly either.
“Our customers have supported us so strongly throughout the lockdown. If they continue to do that now things are picking up again, I think we’ll be absolutely fine.
“The people in Alcester have been amazing – so many of them are supporting their local shops, which is fantastic to see.
“I hope the new food side of the business will enable us to grow further, and I’m optimistic Alcester will continue to support us.”
And Alcester’s Mayor Cllr Gill Forman was also confident the shop would find success coming out of lockdown.
She said: “Molly’s Cotton Tails is a small Alcester business with a big reach – and I think the food side of the business will only increase it.
“They’re a fantastic asset to the town and we wish Sara all the best for the future.”
PICTURED: Alcester’s Mayor Cllr Gill Forman joins Molly’s Cotton Tails owner Sara Palmer at the shop.