ANYONE climbing the steps into Haworth Wholefoods should pause to think a moment before entering.

Because among the millions of people whose feet have trod the well-worn stones, there is a high chance the Brontes were among them.

Standing at the top of cobbled Main Street, the characterful building was a post office in the days of the Brontes and would have been a busy hub in the village.

“It is a very characterful place,” says Dagmar Robertson, who took over the shop eight months ago and is thrilled to be at the helm. “There is a real sense of history here - there is a bookshop next door which has been in the same family since the late 1700s.”

Dagmar discovered Haworth Wholefoods, with its quaint, painted shop front, as a customer. “I shopped here and I really liked it,” he says. “I thought it sold great products and had a good atmosphere.”

The shop sells local, ethical, organic and fairly-traded food, specialising in vegetarian and vegan fare, as well as eco-friendly household products and skincare items. “When the chance to buy it came up, I took it,” he says.

He bought the shop from previous owner Sally Hayes, who opened Haworth Wholefoods in 2016 and built it into a popular place to shop for people within Haworth and beyond.

“Sally did a lot of work to build up the shop to this level,” says Dagmar, who grew up in Haworth, “It is a community shop. We do get some tourists coming in but it would not exist without local people - we have a lot of regular customers - and that is what keeps us going.”

He adds: “We also get customers from Bradford, Halifax and other parts of West Yorkshire. They come especially as there are not many shops like this. For many of our customers we know exactly what they want, and we work hard to fulfil their expectations.”

The shop sells a wide range of foods including fresh, organic fruit and vegetables from a supplier in Tadcaster and from Wibsey Community Garden.

Its vegan Pennine Pasties are popular, along with organic vegan gluten-free soup and a selection of vegan cakes.

“We sell eggs from Oxenhope hens and award-winning locally-produced honey, and local milk. Our bread comes from Blue Sky Baker of Hebden Bridge - they produce lovely artisan-made European bread, slow fermented and vegan,” says Dagmar. “I came across the honey when a customer told me about her hives - it is beautiful stuff.”

The shop stocks the sustainably-sourced, fairly traded Monmouth Coffee. “We are lucky that we can sell it here - I met the company owner a few years ago and emailed her when I took over the shop,” says Dagmar.

Being eco-friendly, not only in the products themselves but in packaging and waste, is important to customers. “We sell all sorts of eco-friendly products including soap, washing-up liquid, shower gel, shampoo and toothpaste.”

Many of their refillable eco cleaning, laundry and personal care products are from Keighley firm Miniml. “They come in glass bottles which can be refilled to eliminate waste,” says Dagmar. “Refillable products are very popular. I use refills now, whereas I didn’t before I worked here.”

Along with his small team of staff - who between them possess a wealth of knowledge about the products on sale - he likes chatting to people and swapping notes about what they particularly enjoy.

“For instance we sell a drinkable apple cider vinegar, Natural Umber, from Northern Ireland, which is really good for you. A spoonful with sparkling water and a slice of lime is lovely, either on its own or with a meal. It’s great to share people’s enthusiasms.

“We also stock chilli sauces called Khoo’s - hot sauces that are hugely popular, made in Sheffield.”

The shop has remained open throughout the pandemic. “I was not here during the first lockdown but it was very busy as people were trying to avoid supermarkets,” says Dagmar.

He recognises that some people are a little wary of wholefood shops and see them as niche. “I am keen to change that - we sell such a wide range that you could do a full grocery shop here.

“We want everyone to feel welcome - to come in, have a chat and leave with a smile on their face.”

The shop has a table in the window where, in normal times, customers can enjoy a cuppa and drink in the famous view.

Dagmar has no plans to change the shop, other than “a lick of paint and minor work to the interior.”

His dad Terry lives locally and is a fan of the shop. “He used to work in a health food shop in Streatham, South London, so is very pleased I am now running one.”

The amount of work involved in running the business has, he admits, taken him by surprise. “I thought I would be sitting down reading a book for much of the day, but there is always something to do and always something going on. It is not as easy as I imagined it would be but I really enjoy it - often when I go home after work I feel very rewarded and am very happy about that.”

*Haworth Wholefoods, 123 Main Street, Haworth BD22 8DP Tel: 01535 649217

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