My Gem of a Local Store - Swindon Pulse

November 21, 2013

Hi all,

In this post I wanted to tell you all about my local, independent whole food shop: Pulse.

They began their co-operative business in 1976, have been trading at their current location since 1986 and are run by local, friendly and very knowledgeable people.

Don’t get me wrong – although I wish I could exclusively shop locally or fair-trade... I live in the real world: I shop in supermarkets, online and in chain stores like Holland and Barrett. I am a savvy shopper on a reasonably low budget – we are a 3 person 1 income family – so we have to be mindful of what we spend. I don’t have the luxury of always putting ‘ethical’ at the top of my purchasing priorities list.

I suppose if you look at my ‘shopper profile’ I am not the middle class, middle aged client that you might stereotypically think of buying organic quinoa and fair-trade fruit. I am a twenty-something year old who loves fashion, make up, shopping and Starbucks. I realise that last one is practically a swear word to many but I can’t help it! The heart wants what the heart wants. 

Post work out Starbucks
To say that I am outside of the typical shopper profile is more than fair! I believe you can have a natural lifestyle, make ethical choices and keep your health at the forefront while still enjoying other, more materialistic things in moderation. After all, this blog is called All Natural Aspirations – I’m still aspiring and not quite achieving!

With a young family to support I find that shopping around is my best bet when it comes to staying on budget. I will write a whole other blog post about how I make the most of our limited money, while still enjoying lots of treats and fun.

Anyway, back to the point of this post – I try to shop locally whenever I can. My whole food store is based in my town centre a short bike or bus ride from my home. They have a bike rack out the front so you can lock up while you are inside – very handy!

Pulse is a tiny shop PACKED full of everything natural, organic and fair trade that you can possibly imagine. It is an absolute treat for me to spend some time perusing their well stocked shelves.

My daughter also loves visiting ‘the green shop’ as she calls it. In fact, she was playing shops with one of her friends the other day and I overheard her saying, ‘welcome to my whole food shop’ and I swelled with pride! Hash tag: raising her right!!

Whenever we go to Pulse (about once a month) I let my daughter choose a couple of bars of ‘moo-free’ chocolate... Have you tried their mint flavour? It is ah-mazing! (My daughter is lactose intolerant so to find such yummy chocolate that doesn’t contain milk is a dream.)

You are always guaranteed a warm welcome from the knowledgeable and friendly staff at Pulse. They're so kind to my daughter and patient with me as I ‘uhm’ and ‘ahh’ about what to buy this time. 

As they have so much to choose from, it really is impossible sometimes and I have to resist spending all of my money there! They stock plenty of grains, pastas, nut butters, honeys, jams, cooking ingredients (stock cubes, curry pastes, yeast etc), teas, vegetables, essential oils, natural oils, beauty and skin products, hair care, plus fridges and freezers of lots of ‘free from’ products and local farm produce. Honestly, I cannot even list it all but I have taken lots of photos.

They also offer to order in for you if you need/want some specific products, if it is within their ability to do so. I have not actually taken up this offer yet as I’ve never failed to find what I am looking for in there!

Pulse are a collection point for a local, organic fruit and veg box scheme and their website can tell you a lot more about what they stock... also I urge you to read the fascinating history of the shop. Favourite quote, ‘survived the Thatcherite doom’. Right on, man.

Hang on, I hear you cry: ‘But how competitive can a local shop really be?’ and I thought this initially too. Obviously, they cannot always compete with the (I assume below cost price) of some internet outlets but, particularly on branded items, they are often the same or very close price. 9 times out of 10 they are cheaper than Holland and Barrett – even when H&B are doing their buy one get one half price offers.

From what I understand, they do their best to keep overheads low – everyone in the co-operative is equal and works for minimum wage. Pulse’s main focus is to bring healthy and honest options to us Swindonians... and it really shows. No product wins a place on their shelves based on ‘coolness’ or how ‘en vogue’ it may be. If something is stocked there it is because it fits and supports the store’s ideology whilst also being high quality.

So, if you are local to me and live in Swindon be sure to pop into Pulse, you’re bound to be welcomed with open arms and no judgement. They won’t chuck you back out if you wash your hair more than once a month and aren’t wearing home made or second hand clothes. I.E. you do not need to be a bad cliché of a hippy to shop in a whole food shop!

If you are not from Swindon then I urge you to seek out your local store and see what they have. You might not have a whole food shop but you are likely to at least have a farmers market – they will sell local, fresh produce and you can support your immediate economy that way instead.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this post – a little different to normal but I have massively enjoyed writing it.

Do you have a local shop you can support? Do you go to a farmer’s market near you? What have your experiences been?

Rach xx

Swindon Pulse Website
Open 9am to 5.30pm Monday-Saturday (6pm on Thursdays)
27 Curtis Street, Old Town, Swindon, Wiltshire, SN1 5JU
Tel: 01793 692016

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