Brontosaurus Vegan stands as a beacon of hope, representing the resilience of independent businesses. As the only vegan shop in Swansea, it has become a vital resource for those seeking a cruelty-free lifestyle.
Please tell us about you, your customers, your staff and your business.
I began working in my Grandparent’s health food store from the age of 11 and fell in love with the trade, working in independent health stores throughout South Wales after their retirement, until all my dreams of owning a shop of my own became reality. I opened Brontosaurus Vegan in 2017 after many years of dreaming and planning, with the support of my family and friends. As a lifelong veggie-turned-vegan, I wanted Brontosaurus to adhere to my personal ethos.
I have many loyal customers from various walks of life: mature vegans who were ‘vegan before it was easy’ (said with a wink whilst buying Tartex pate and TVP), young vegans who are now spoilt for choice, new vegans who come in for advice and support, family members of vegans who come in in a whirlwind of panic and leave with more understanding and a free vegan guide, families of vegans – generations including grandparents, parents and children, vegan-curious folks, veggies, students, people with allergies and intolerances, and more.
Currently I have a small employ of staff – mostly my husband and two friends, who help when needed.
Brontosaurus was ‘born’ in January 2017 and will turn 7 on the 3rd of January. We host a monthly vegan mini market in the centre of our home, Swansea Indoor Market, encouraging local, independent vegan friendly businesses to come along and trade with us.
Every November (for World Vegan Month) and January (for Veganuary) we host a taster, information or event EVERY day throughout the month. We do this to provide our new and established customers with a change to try something that they wouldn’t usually. It’s a fun month and we enjoy working with stockists.
What inspired you to open your shop?
Having worked in the health food trade since the age of 11, I have always known that I wanted to create my own shop. As a lifelong veggie I began volunteering with a local outreach group called ‘Swansea Vegfest’. The group planned events such as markets, festivals, bake sales, cinema showings, to encourage people to learn about veganism. With their support I turned vegan and have never looked back. All new vegans know the pain of those first few shopping trips, having to read ALL the labels – gosh it was overwhelming! I wanted a place that I could shop in without having to read labels, a safe place where I could gain non-judgemental support to help me in whatever stage of my vegan adventure I was in… and then Brontosaurus was born!
What are you most proud of about your business and why?
I am proud of a huge number of things… the variety of stock we hold in our tiny little shop. The level of service we provide to our customers. Surviving countless lockdowns and changing our business model many, many times, but always keeping it vegan and always smiling. Our monthly events. Our relationship with other traders in the Market. Creating and maintaining a business with two small children. Having some sanity left!
What’s your local area/ high street like?
As Dylan Thomas said Swansea is an ‘ugly, lovely town’, our Swansea Market home is certainly in the lovely portion. Whilst the high street directly outside has been suffering for several years, I am lucky to be part of a community of independent businesses who have persisted. As a seaside town, close to a wonderful area of natural beauty, we are spoilt for tourists. We are also a university town, home to two universities.
What sets your store apart from others in the area?
We are Swansea’s only vegan shop and pride ourselves on our customer service. We are proactive in providing free reading materials for new vegans, have a free recipe book library, host weekly tasters, host monthly vegan markets, offer a local delivery service and more.
How are you and your other local independent high street retailers fairing?
I thought that lock down was going to be our most difficult challenge but have found the years following it testing. Consumers shopping habits have changed due to the extended period of online and contactless shopping. I have many shop neighbours and business friends who have closed. I don’t think we would have made it without the support of our local community and suppliers such as Suma.
What kind of products can we buy in your shop?
We sell everything you could think of in our little shop – think of us as a little vegan supermarket! We sell chilled, frozen, and prepacked products, allergy friendly, specialist and local products, nutritional supplements, toiletries and household products and more!
What are the bestsellers/customer favourites at the moment and what’s your favourite product?
So many things to choose from! I think MY favourite products at the moment are Suma’s peach and turmeric kombucha and Good For You Ferments local sauerkraut – I’m enjoying learning about the benefits of fermented products. Our most popular items at the moment are Mabel’s Vegan Yorkshire Puddings, no matter what time of the year we cannot keep them in the freezer! The Suma ‘things in tins’ range fly out – perfect for travelling or quick dinners. I Am Nut Ok cheases have people giggling and drooling to the counter -they are so delicious! Oh! And HIP Peanut Butter Truffles because something (definitely not us) keeps eating them all!