The Top Shop in Byron might no longer caters to its original blue collar worker clientele but it continues to evolve with the times reflecting the character and aspirations of the town.
Extending its focus from products with a local and sustainable focus they have chosen to serve higher welfare animal products as well, specifically a commitment to higher welfare eggs, sourced from local farms.
This commitment to sourcing cage-free eggs has seen them recognised by the RSPCA’s Choose Wisely initiative.
Choosing to serve higher welfare animal products does not come without a cost. But for the Gordon brothers, it’s a cost that is both necessary and manageable.
‘For us, free range, pastured eggs, free range chicken and free range pork is the minimum standard practice. We believe animals should be farmed in a way that their lives are pleasant, healthy and worthwhile,’ Charlie Gordon says.
But often for small business, ethical preferences are outweighed by the financial reality. The hospitality industry is one where margins are quite slim, and every dollar saved on ingredients makes a big difference to the bottom line.
Charlie says that at the Top Shop, it’s not just about profits, it’s also about being conscious throughout the business of the reality of where animal products come from, and the experiences of the animals in question. Not to mention the personal impact their staff gain from knowing they’re doing the right thing.
‘We are proud of what we do, and hope this comes across. We started on day one with a “no compromise” attitude to animal welfare and have stuck to our guns, despite financial pressure,’ he says.
‘To pay 20c for an egg is unthinkable and should not be possible. Engaging with local farmers such as Hayter’s Hill farm make us and our staff conscious and aware of each egg, or rasher being something to handle with respect and be thankful for.’
This awareness is only possible when the true context of where each egg and bacon roll comes from is known, Charlie explains, and he and his brothers believe that this is made possible through working closely with local producers. If customers really understood the different farming frameworks and what the reality is for layer hens, and pigs raised for meat, they will be more supportive of the local businesses that actively support higher welfare ingredients.