Report By Sam Adams, Wanstead & Woodford Guardian. Reproduced with permission.
WANSTEAD’S last remaining butcher has been recognised for his service to the community, nearly 40 years after he first entered the trade.
Stephen Alsop joined AG Dennis, in the High Street, as an apprentice in 1967, and has owned the business for the past 20 years, during which time he has seen the area’s five other butcher shops close down through lack of trade.
The 55-year-old spoke of the difficulties faced by small traders across Redbridge, when he was presented with the Wanstead Society (WS) Shopkeeper of the Year Award, on Thursday, September 27 2007
He said: "I am proud to have survived all this time, particularly when you think how many of the other butchers around here have disappeared.
"We have remained open because we moved with the times and offer higher quality products which are hard to find in supermarkets.
"It’s true that supermarkets have undercut a lot of local traders, and put many of us out of business, but it’s the sky-high rental rates in Wanstead High Street that are the biggest problem."
Mr Alsop, who hopes to see his son, Stephen Jnr, take over the business when he retires, attributes much of his success to the shop’s former owner, Leonard Dennis, who trained him as a teenager.
He said: "Mr Dennis was one of the last of the gentlemen butchers, and taught me to take pride in what I do, and to go that extra mile to give the customer what they want."
WS vice-chairman, Jack Figg, who presented the award, praised Mr Alsop for his efforts, and called on the council to do more to support small businesses in Redbridge.
He said: "Shops like AG Dennis are the life-blood of this community, and it is vital that everything possible is done to ensure they are able to continue to provide a unique and personal service for us all."