Musing: Delicatessen Magazine (November 2018)

After a meeting with Chris McNeill – editor of The Delicatessen Magazine – in the margins of the January 2018 Scottish Speciality Food Show in Glasgow, Mr Deli was excited to be asked to write a regular column for this increasingly influential independent trade publication.

In the latest of his regular columns, Mr Deli has a little rant about retail being driven by the artificiality of seasonal diary dates (read Mr Deli’s first column here)

There’s a Time and Place for the ‘C Word


I just checked our ‘in-box’. The 1st of July. I’ll just say that again. The 1st of JULY! 

That was when we received our first nudge from a distributor that we had to start thinking about the ‘C Word’ (and even though I’m on a rant, you won’t get me to say it!). That would be the middle of what we like to call … Summer. And you want me to dust off the tinsel, check the best before date on the Sage and Onion Stuffing and start to order chocolate Santas. Well, tar me, feather me and call me a turkey, but that is NOT the way we do the seasonal stuff around here.

Don’t get us wrong. We love a Joyeux Noël as much as the next deli owner!

There is always room for a bit of Nat King Cole, a slow roast, robust red wines, cold cuts on Boxing Day … there’s generally some fun to be had with Secret Santa gift giving. We love some twinkling fairy lights to give the windows a seasonal sparkle (and Mr Deli has often declared himself to be a fan of stockings).

BUT … it can’t just be us who has noticed that rampant consumerism seems to have become the prevailing message as St Nicholas takes his red coat to the dry cleaners and prepares for his seasonal responsibilities?

No sooner has the last crackle of the Catherine Wheel died away on a crisp November evening and the embers of the town bonfire have cooled, than the sound of Michael Bublé crooning ‘Frosty the Snowman’ is being piped out of speakers throughout the retail world!

Well, not here in ‘Deli HQ’. No chance, Tiny Tim. At the risk of sounding a little out of kilter, Bob Cratchit, we’re just not ready for it yet. All Mariah Carey wants for Chr***mas might well be us … but she can’t have us until the time is right – and that time is not now!

Here at The High Street Delicatessen, we have a “great tastes are for life, not just for the ‘C Word’ …” approach and it seems to be appreciated by our customers.

We think there’s something to be said for taking a long-term view of deli life. Our handpicked curation of great tastes means that we stock gorgeous things that work throughout the year. Our customers are a discerning lot. They already trust us to pick the good stuff. The food gifts they select throughout the year are appreciated whenever they are given. We trust our customers not to need us to remind them that 25th December is on the horizon. We’re pretty sure they know that. We’re confident that our customers have been carefully checking out the stuff they love throughout the year.

When it comes to gift shopping, they already know that there is nothing better for friends and family who have everything than a hamper packed with handpicked tasty treats. We trust them to come to us when the time is right … and they trust us to have the right produce, the great tastes they have grown familiar with over the course of their relationship with us.

The food stories we can bring to their table sound no better against a backdrop of Noddy Holder bellowing unseasonal tunes while the Autumn sunshine is painting golden pictures in the trees. Let us at least allow the leaves to fall before we succumb to faux snowflakes in our shop windows.

So, whilst we will be celebrating the season, we will be doing so at the right time of the year.  You have full permission to shout the ‘C Word‘ from 1st December onwards!

Until then, let’s just celebrate the Autumn! Drink a mulled cider. Eat a toffee apple. Bathe in butternut squash soups. Shake a sparkler as you dance around the town bonfire. Maybe even celebrate the cool things you already have on your shelves. Don’t over-order the seasonal offerings that just seem too good to refuse when the catalogue arrives in July! Don’t make it your Instagram feed that is offering 30% off your remaining 27 panettone in February.

There’s a time and a place for everything.

 Mr and Mrs Deli will be celebrating the festive season NEXT month!