MOOCH is an independently owned gift and card shop on Northfield Avenue, established by Ealing residents, Sandra O’Connell and Evelyn O’Flaherty, in 2016. As part of our Welcome Back campaign, they tell us more about their business and how they are weathering the pandemic.
Tell us about how MOOCH came about
We both had artisan market stalls in West London selling jewellery and personalised cushions, so when a local shop suddenly and unexpectedly became available, we took a leap of faith and opened our first shop. We knew we wanted to showcase and champion small independent maker designers as well as more well known and loved brands. Since opening we have won several awards including ‘Best New Gift Shop’ London and Southeast and also the Best Shop in Ealing by TIMEOUT.
We opened our second MOOCH on Pitshanger Lane at the end of 2017 and our third shop MOOCH Inside (opposite the first shop) which stocks children’s goods and small homeware products.
Why is MOOCH unique?
MOOCH is unique for so many reasons, we support lots of small businesses and we can adapt our offering to the demands of our local customers. Lots of our suppliers give a percentage of their profits to charity and we try and source as ethically and environmentally responsible as possible.
We still hand make and produce our own products which we initially sold on our market stalls prior to taking the leap into owning and running a shop. We feel privileged to be part of our wonderful community both in Northfields and Pitshanger.
What made you choose Ealing for your business?
Both of us have lived in Ealing for about 20 years bringing up our families (we have 3 kids each so our children went to local Ealing schools) so there was no other place we would have wanted our first shop as we knew first hand about the local community. There is a real passion about the local area, it’s like lots of little villages all linked up. People from outside London often think we have no community and they couldn’t be further from the truth.
How has the pandemic impacted your business?
Like many other small businesses the pandemic has had a huge impact, we have had our doors closed for over six months of the year and our passion has always been to provide a ‘Brick and Mortar’ shopping experience.
During the first lock down we offered free local delivery via our website which was very popular, the subsequent lockdowns we have offered a ‘Click and Collect’ service and this have proved to be a lifeline for us.
Sales are a fraction of when we are open, but we are grateful for the local community who have supported us and have helped us stay a viable business.
How have you adapted during the pandemic?
We have improved our online presence and have spent lots of our time uploading the many hundreds of products we sell to an online platform.
In order to keep our customers safe all staff will wear a face covering, sanitise hands on a regular basis and serve from behind a Perspex screen.
We will ask all customers to clean their hands prior to entering our shops (hand gel is provided outside each shop), we request that everyone wears a face covering (unless of course they are exempt). We will also continue to limited the amount of people entering the shop at any one time to ensure social distancing measures are adhered to.
Supporting the local community
We support the local community by hopefully offering a welcoming and friendly smile to everyone who walks in, we realise that we may be the only person someone might interact with that day.
We employ local people, all works done on the shop, be it window artwork, shop re-painting, new shelving, we make an effort to employ local small businesses.
We also raise money annually for Meadow House Hospice, this year we produced Ealing Christmas cards which raised over £400 from them, this would of course been more if we hadn’t been locked down in November and just before Christmas. Hopefully we can double this next year.
Like lots of small community shops we also provide heaps of vouchers and prizes for local schools and playgroups for their fundraising events.
What makes Ealing special?
Community, diversity, great restaurants, absolutely love that you can find any cuisine in Ealing. Great open spaces and interesting history and of course all the great pubs.
Why should people support local?
People should shop local to breathe life into the local community, keep their local high streets vibrant and support the small businesses who do in turn support local people. Small independent shops are a true asset to an area, we can provide a personal service that you just can’t get in a large shopping centre.
What are your favourite places in Ealing?
Our green spaces, especially Gunnersbury Park, our amazing array of eateries along Northfields Avenue including Deliza Italian, Sikulo Italian, Papilion Cafe, Tapiela, Mama’s and Katmadu Nepalese restaurants, Nuki’s Thai, Broneck’s Fish to name just a few! (Sorry to the ones we have missed out!)
The new Cinema in Ealing Broadway we are sure will be a much awaited new favourite place.
To find out more about MOOCH visit: https://mooch-ealing.com/
To find out more about supporting local businesses read Welcome Back to Ealing’s high streets.