Musing: Delicatessen Magazine (March 2019)

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 refuses to see January and February as gloomy retail months. It’s all about energy, enthusiasm and innovation to get the year off on the right foot (read Mr Deli’s first column here)

Quiet Start to the Year? Write Your Own Mood Music

January … what is it with everyone? Giving up this and that, cutting back on the ‘naughty’ stuff. Trying new diets.

What’s a deli owner to do? A couple of weeks ago, all the chocolates, gin, wine, nougat, tortilla chips, chocolate spreads, liqueurs and cakes were de riguer.

January? Ban-you-ary, more like!

It seems to us that when it comes to our high street deli life, there are two ways of tackling the start of the year. You can stand behind your counter and wait for it to be quiet … January will never disappoint you in that regard.


(and this is the way Mr and Mrs Deli tackle the start of each new year) you get out and about and you turn the quiet months to your advantage.

First rule of getting out and about … communicate, communicate, communicate. Tell everyone you are going to do it. Create a buzz around it but, most importantly, let people know when you will be open. Don’t focus on being shut … shout up about when you’ll be around.

In January, we are OPEN on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. See, super-positive. Look, lovely customers, this is when we will be here for your deli needs. Tell folk what’s available … fabulous local bread, great coffee, the amazing cheese counter … blimey, we even have wine for those not giving in to the pressure to go dry for January (there are wine producers and merchants to support, everyone!). If you really want the whole Dry January, there are dry white wines … switch to an Albariño or a Viognier. Dry Martini, anyone?

Then, make a plan for the rest of the time … TELL EVERYONE.

Last year we packed in trips to Pembrokeshire, London and Glasgow. Mrs Deli drew the line at New York and Paris but we picked some great spots, with amazing food and small business influences and we headed out on the road to source great tastes and inspiration.

We shared, shared and shared again. All the social media channels buzzed with hints and snippets from our trips. Tantalising nods to new lines; tasty meals in ‘kindred spirit‘ businesses; funky designs and shop layouts; and pictures of us hanging out with cool producers.

Our customers seem to love our travels. They are curious. They feel connected to the people who make the handpicked products on our shelves. Customers are excited about tasting the things we’ve been tasting.

This year, Mrs Deli headed to Ashburton Cookery School to upskill. Being very wise, she picked a Chocolate Making Workshop – no sign of giving up the naughty stuff there, Mrs Deli. How did Mr Deli use his time? By visiting a design studio to talk about brand values and communication. All about keeping things fresh and moving forward.

It turns out that Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays in the early part of the year can be crazy busy days in the deli. Six days of activity compressed into three. Perfect for creating a buzzy atmosphere with none of the usual downbeat mood of a dreary January. We feel good and that comes across to everyone in the shop. Mr and Mrs Deli are buzzing with new ideas and the ideas become the upbeat topic of conversation.

So, small business owners … you get to choose.

Bemoan January, wrap yourself in a melancholy cloak of gloom and despondency, stand there gazing out the door looking for the retail hordes who will never arrive however much we’d love them to. 


Get out there and create your own buzz. Write your own mood music. Be the architect of your own inspiration. Give your customers something amazing to look forward to. Build the foundations for a fabulous year. We cannot wait to get started!

2019 … bring it on!


Now Mr Deli has to get his thinking cap on for his next column … anything you’d like to know about our small business life that you’d love him to muse about? (read Mr Deli’s last column here)