'After 40 years we look back with pride' - Fairhaven Wholefoods celebrates landmark anniversary
- Credit: Fairhaven Wholefoods
An independent vegetarian health food store in Letchworth is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year.
Having opened in 1981, Fairhaven Wholefood Ltd has come a long way since its inception by Robin and Wendy Sternberg, who began the business from their living room.
As members of the town's Vegetarian Society, Robin and several others came together to bring a wholefood store to the garden city.
They would take turns to travel to London to bulk buy wholefoods from Community Foods and then distribute these to fellow members of the society including St Christopher School.
In 1981, Robin decided to make this his full-time occupation. Robin and Wendy named the business after their house on Sollershott West, and so Fairhaven Wholefoods Ltd was born and has been a haven for health foods as well as fairly produced and traded products ever since.
With the rising popularity of the vegetarian way of life and increase in demand, Wendy left her nursing career to assist Robin in his endeavour.
Further expansion took place when Robin took over a supplement stall in the indoor market. Paul and Gill Pritchard joined Robin and Wendy after two years and were keen to open a shop in the town centre. This came to fruition and Fairhaven Wholefoods opened a shop on Eastcheap.
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Rising rents in the town meant that the retail operation moved to the warehouse where the business continues to this day.
By the time Fairhaven Wholefoods Ltd reached its 10th anniversary the supply area spanned five counties.
After 27 years, Robin and Wendy retired, and the business was bought in 2008 by Neil and Teresa Timms.
Refills have been a staple part of the Fairhaven offering for over 17 years with thousands of bottles being refilled with products now ranging from hand soap and body care, to laundry and cleaning products.
The store was awarded a Surfers Against Sewage award, as well as being recognised by Plastic Free Letchworth as a Plastic Free Champion, continuing its commitment to reducing plastic waste.
During the COVID-19 lockdown, the store remained open for click and collect and deliveries, and the family and staff worked tirelessly to ensure customers were able to get staple foods when supermarkets were overwhelmed and not able to cope with demand. Rose, a customer from London, was particularly grateful, saying that Fairhaven was a lifesaver, going above and beyond, echoing what many customers felt.
Teresa said: "It is quite poignant at this time of renewed climate crisis focus, that through the little actions of ourselves and the like-minded customers of Fairhaven, we have been resolute in support of a fairer, cleaner and greener world for over 40 years and continue to be on a daily basis.
"After 40 years of trading, we can look back with pride and look forward to what can be achieved over the next 40 years."
The longest serving member of the Fairhaven staff, Audrey Green, said: “We are still banging the same drum. After 34 years, I am even more convinced the only way to good health is to eat a proper wholefood diet and it never ceases to amaze me how people can improve their ills and ailments by changing their diet!”
Fairhaven is affectionally known as one of Letchworth’s best kept secrets and the store is an ‘Aladdin’s cave’ full of wonderful healthy wholefoods.
Final anniversary celebrations culminate at their Christmas Fayre which will be held on Saturday, November 27 from 12noon until 4pm. For full details visit the Fairhaven website at www.fairhaven.co.uk.