Doing things differently

“Anything that’s new on the market, I try to stock it here,” says Prashant Patel, from The Shoreditch Stop in east London. “If it goes well, I’ll give it more space. If it doesn’t work, we’ll replace it with something else.”

This approach to trying new products has not only allowed the store to keep pace with the latest trends in a diverse and busy part of London, it gives them a unique point of difference. However, one of the biggest pulls is the range of hot Indian food.

“We don’t make the food here – it’s cooked in a commercial kitchen in north London. It’s prepared freshly in the morning, then I bring it over to the shop in my van,” he continues. 

“It sells well at lunchtime, as there are a lot of office workers in this area, and we often do catering orders to offices as well. We use the Karma app to save waste. 

“At the end of the day, customers can order leftover food at a discount, then come and collect it. This is popular on Friday nights.”

"We always speak to our customers, and if they tell us they like the food, we give them leaflets to share with colleagues and friends" – Prashant Patel

A number of areas in the store stand out, including 3.75m dedicated to teas and coffees, a large display of protein and cereal bars near the entrance, free-from options throughout the store, and a big selection of spirits behind the counter, where gin and rum are the best performers. 

Striking the right balance between traditional categories and new trends is a constant battle.

“On the convenience side, we try to cater to everything,” he says. “A lot of the customers want old-school newsagent things such as chocolate bars, crisps, cigarettes and things like that.”

For Prashant, keeping on top of how the range is performing is about sticking to the basics. 

“We use an EPoS system on the till,” he explains. “But my brother and I keep an eye on what’s selling well in the shop. 

“Because we’re here every day, it’s not hard to keep track of what’s selling well. In a small independent store, it’s all right in front of our eyes.”

What The Shoreditch Stop does well 

The Shoreditch Stop exterior

Standing out in an area like Shoreditch isn’t easy, but The Shoreditch Stop manages in many ways. The most striking is the shop’s signage. “It was done by a Brazilian graffiti artist I saw working in the area,” says Prashant. 

“I asked him if he’d do our signs, and he agreed. It really stands out, and I think it fits the area well – I’ve not seen another shop like this.”

Other ideas are more subtle. “We don’t have a minimum spend on card transactions, but a lot of stores here do,” he says. “It brings more customers into our store. Recently, we had someone come in just to buy McCoy’s and a Twix. She said she’d walked almost a mile to find a shop that didn’t do card charges.”

Another standout feature is the store’s Bitcoin ATM. “It brings in footfall, and users will often buy something while they wait.”

How I stay competitive

The Shoreditch Stop hot food counter

“Shoreditch is a challenging area to run a business,” says Prashant. Competition comes in the form of other convenience stores, supermarkets and pop-up shops as well as street food stalls.

“Nowadays, you don’t get a lot of authentic food around here,” he continues. “Most are taking street food and mixing up different cultures. We keep to strictly authentic, homemade Indian curry.”

The Shoreditch Stop takes an interesting approach to promoting its unique selling point.

“We don’t market on social media,” reveals Prashant. “Most of our customers work in offices around here. We always speak to our customers, and if they tell us they like the food, we give them some leaflets to share with their colleagues and friends.”

Deliveroo is another standout for the shop, with The Shoreditch Stop doing alcohol deliveries through the app.

The changes and their impact

Prashant was manager of the shop for several years before becoming the owner two and a half years ago. In that time, he has overseen major changes to the layout.

“The hot food counter used to be at the front of the shop, while the traditional convenience store section was at the back,” Prashant explains.  

“After I’d been in charge for eight months, we switched the food counter to the back and the convenience to the entrance. Before, the queue for the Indian food would go out into the street. When we were really busy, I was seeing customers leave the queue and go elsewhere.

“We’re now selling more tobacco products, and we’re selling more hot food, as people now have an area where they can wait in the store. We even added a breakfast bar so they can eat in.”

What I’m working on now 

Located in vibrant Shoreditch, the store aims to respond to the various trends impacting the area. Sustainability is an area that Prashant is looking to grow. “We stock Mr Muscle and Ecover cleaning products,” Prashant says. “Ecover is more expensive, but we are seeing more customers buying it than Mr Muscle. Ethical sells around here.”

According to Prashant, adapting to trends is all about taking a patient and considered approach.

“We didn’t start with many sustainable lines, but slowly we’ve been expanding it as more people come in looking for it. We’ll see how it goes for the next six to eight months. If it carries on as it is, I’d like to eventually have 80% sustainable lines in the store,” he says. 

“We recently started doing the Faith in Nature range. We’re starting with a small range, and if it picks up, we’ll look to dedicate a whole section to it.”


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The Shoreditch Stop curry rice
The Shoreditch Stop bitcoins

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