How do you replicate the experience of visiting Sheffield’s buzzing Moor Market in an online setting?
This is the question that Chefchef.store, a unique new online shop launched in The Moor Market, has been asking itself.
Everyone has nostalgic memories of going along with their nan to the old Castle Market, or visiting its new incarnation on The Moor, but in an increasingly online world, which holds convenience above pretty much everything else, it’s proven an ever-more difficult task for the market to compete with the big six supermarkets.
But all that is about to change as an innovative new delivery app promises to offer all the vibrancy of the market, combined with the trader’s expertise, quality, freshness and value for money, all in one place. That means you can now do your weekly big shop using local independents, without scrimping on quality, all without leaving the house.
Launched this week, Chefchef.store is a collaboration between ex-Tramlines organiser Dave Healy, the city council, City Grab and online platform ShopAppy, who are all hoping to bring the warmth of Sheffield’s market right to your doorstep.
Dave said: “It’s humans engaging with humans. Tesco is sterile. If you go on Chefchef.store, you’ll see that every store is one of the stallholder’s stalls. For example, you can get Smith and Tissington’s fish, and it is the fish that was caught last night. They’re out every morning at four o’clock, getting the best bargains for you.
“Why is our bread fresher than supermarkets? Because Mr. Turner comes in to see me and says, we will need this much bread delivering tomorrow, so we get the bread from the stall who has ordered it fresh that morning and it goes straight to you, and it’s still warm when it arrives.
“There’s no messing around with regional distribution centres, it comes straight to you, fresh from the market. You’ve got the care in the produce and you’ve got the passion of these guys who care about quality, and you’ve also got amazing value.
“As we grow, our site should become more and more interactive as our social media, videos and communication become more and more human, but at the moment, you’re locked down at home, you already know that markets are great and we can get all that quality delivered right to your door.”
Around 30 traders are already on board, including third generation fishmongers Tissingtons, greengrocers Binghams and Stuarts, butchers Morley and Wateralls, and Beer Central.
As well as delivering all this quality from historic Sheffield independents, they also plan to be much more sustainable than the supermarkets, using less and less plastics and packaging.
“For the last 20 years, supermarkets have sacrificed quality for time,” explains Dave, “Everything in Tesco is now wrapped in plastic ready to go in the microwave for 30 seconds, because they’ve persuaded you that you need to spend more time on WhatsApp, and less time cooking.
“In response, we have also started developing ready meals – but with ingredients sourced fresh from the market, and with less plastic waste. The first brand we’ve put out is Eddie’s heart-warming stews, which offer three for £10 microwave ready meals, so that we can compete with Tesco on convenience and speed.
“And unlike Tesco, where you never get to meet Mr Findus or Mr Del Monte or Mr turkey gobblers, or whatever it is, you can come and meet the people who made it right here in the market.”
The team will also a ‘Hello Fresh’ type service, with ingredients from the market portioned up to be made at home, and an express store with a smaller range that can be delivered within the hour.
The long-term plan is to offer everything you might order in a full weekly shop in the supermarket, which will mean filling ‘gaps’ in the offer by using other local independents, such as event caterers PJ Taste.
The company has been funded by City Taxis, who launched its City Grab delivery app in January and has been a big success during lockdown. The app allows customers to visit the markets stall individually, so you can still browse the market as you would in person, creating a single basket, which can then be checked out as one delivery order.
Chief executive Arnie Singh said: “City Taxis and City Grab were both born of a passion for keeping independents independent. It is in our DNA.”
Traders will pay a commission based on turnover to City Grab, while customers pay the fare of the taxi or van making the delivery.
“Why is the market better than Tesco?” asks Dave, “Because it’s more human. The elders of Sheffield know the cafe owners in the market because they used to buy their tea from them when they were in the Sheaf Market, which was before Castle Market, and human connection is what markets have that Tesco are trying to destroy.”