Meet your local: Sprout & Flower, Mere

Rachael Rowe visited Sprout & Flower, a beautiful flowermonger/greengrocer /deli (with ‘the best coffee for miles’) in Mere, and chatted to owner Sarah Collins.
Sprout & Flower have been on The Square in Mere for over a decade.

There’s an attractive colourful display of fresh vegetables and floral bouquets outside Sprout and Flower on The Square in Mere. The smell of fresh fruit and vegetables blended with foliage and flowers greets customers inside. “We need to can that smell,” smiles owner Sarah Collins.

How did you get started? What’s the story behind the shop?
“I have been a florist for 20 years. Then, 11 years ago, my family expanded, and we needed a bigger house. And then this place popped up in Mere. So, we ended up with a bigger house, a shop, and the business started. I had always worked for other people and thought: “I’ll give it a go”, and the business has grown subtly and slowly.
“This was originally a greengrocer but needed some updating. I started the coffee bar around seven years ago, and it has really made the place a hub for people in Mere. It’s also a nice stop off for people heading to the South West (note – it’s just off the A303). It’s a green oasis.
“People comment about the smell. We do produce our own candles here, but if only we could just can the smell because everyone comments on it. We were also the first place to have a milk station in Mere, and we sell cheeses and charcuterie.
“We keep the place looking rustic with lots of upcycled and reclaimed furnishings. It has an earthy feel to the place.”

Sarah admits she’ll always be a florist at heart, and they are the favourite part of the shop “No one does flowers quite like us. They are very natural, and we buy mostly British flowers”

How big is the team?
“We have three full-time staff and five who are part-time. Some do one day a week.”

What’s flying off the shelves right now?
“Our flowers are always very popular. No one does flowers quite like us. They are very natural, and we buy mostly British flowers, although some are imported. The cakes are another bestseller. People adore our cakes, and I have just got a fantastic new baker. Our coffee is also excellent. I’m told we’re the best for miles around.”

Tell us about some of your local suppliers.
“Almost everything in the shop has a local twist. I have three baking ladies locally. We use Jane’s Grains from Tisbury, and we have local cheeses. Our vegetable stall outside is all local, apart from the kohlrabi. We get
carrots from North Wiltshire, and we’re lucky to have Mere Trout Farm close by. John Hurd’s watercress is just down the road, and he always seems to know when I have run out because a fresh box appears in the
doorway.”

Sarah had been a florist for twenty years when her family expanded and they moved to Mere in 2011 for a bigger house – which came with a greengrocer’s shop. She decided to give working for herself a go, and hasn’t looked back

What has been your biggest challenge in the last decade?
“Lockdown – changing the business was a challenge. We went from a happy florist to a food and veg box assembly line overnight. The whole team came in, and we did 40 box deliveries a day. Customers could not go all the way into the shop. It was a real challenge for two years.”

What is your absolute favourite part of the shop?
“I’m a florist! I love planters and things like that.”

I started the coffee bar around seven years ago, and it has really made the place a hub for people in Mere. It’s also a nice stop
off for people heading to the South West (note – it’s just off the A303). It’s a green oasis.”

And what part of the business are you most proud of?
“The whole thing. And that it’s so supported. We have some real characters in Mere. And that I have kept it going for 11 years.” Sarah recalled a day last Christmas. “Two men came in and bought huge bouquets of
flowers. One of them couldn’t believe the place. He said it was just like being in a storybook, and it was magical. It made me quite emotional to hear that.”

Baskets brimming with fresh citrus fruits, delicious tomatoes, Italian pasta, dried herbs & spices and in the fridges local organic salad, chard & spinach, local cheeses & charcuterie…

So what’s next?
“Well, I never really plan anything. I think it’s enough!” Assistant Fiona looks up thoughtfully. “I like that every
day is different here. And I think this is the type of shop that brings nice people in.” It’s definitely a place to visit and stop for a coffee, treat yourself to flowers, and enjoy that smell.

Find Sprout and Flower on The Square in Mere (BA12 6DJ) www.sproutandflower.co.uk

by Rachael Rowe

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