Meet the Leeds family who turned their post office in to a craft beer paradise
For years the Singh family ran an unassuming Post Office on Raynville Road in Armley.
After the shop closed down as a post office in 2008, Raynville Superstore was born. A standard corner shop off-licence, where customers could pick up groceries, a limited range of alcohol and the latest newspapers.
In 2013, shopkeeper Johnny, who grew up in the shop watching his parents work, began stocking craft beer after a customer grumbled that they didn't have any decent beers on offer.
The customer was unhappy with the standard Carling, Carlsberg and Stella, amongst similar brands being sold. Johnny was keen to act on the customer's feedback, get in some new stock and try his hand at selling something "more interesting" and less "boring".
Before Johnny began stocking craft beer, he wasn’t a massive enthusiast. The most he’d ever tried were Belgian and German beers but he widened his palette when he visited the Kirkstall Bridge Inn and began drinking their American imports.
As the years went by, the shop became busier and busier as his shop was becoming well known for selling craft beers.
The craft beers eventually took over, becoming the main product the Singhs sold. They now have 1,100 different individual beers on their shelves.
'It’s just more interesting now'
Johnny explained the transition, he said: “We got rid of all the other products because we just couldn’t be bothered. It’s just boring. Selling newspapers and groceries, they’re the same products that you can buy everywhere.
“It’s just more interesting now. With the grocery products, you’re buying the same products from the same people for the same price. There’s no differentiating from any off-licence corner shop that you go to. They’re all competing with each other so they’re all selling at the same prices, so you can’t really distinguish yourself.
“If you wanted some beans, you can go to any of those shops and they’ll have it.
“But if you wanted this [he gestures at the wide variety of beers on his shelves] then they’re not going to have it.”
The 41-year-old, whose real name is Daminderjit, grew up above the shop as his parents Amrit, 66, and Baljit, 65, manned the tills below.
He still lives there with his wife, who is also named Baljit, 39, their two children who are seven and three, and his sister.
Even though the beers are beautifully displayed across the shop, members of the public are not allowed inside.
Customers have to rely on ordering from the Raynville Superstore website, they can then either collect from the shop or have the beers delivered.
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'Shop to online, it’s a totally different world'
The business has become renowned for their high-quality stock and cheap prices throughout the UK, delivering to addresses as north as Aberdeen and as south as Brighton. He manages to keep costs low as the shop is situated in a “cheaper area” away from the city centre and he doesn’t employ staff because it’s a family business.
This system of sale was conceived due to the pandemic and Johnny wants to keep it this way, he prefers this way of working.
Johnny said: “We moved from a shop to online, it’s a totally different world. When people came to the shop and you were serving them, it took quite a long time.
“It could take 10 or 15 minutes. Even if they didn’t need help, I still had to wait. I couldn’t work on anything else because I was waiting to serve this person.
“Now, they put an order in online. I look at it and it takes me a minute to collect up the products. I press the button that the order is ‘done’ and they can come and get it. It’s a lot easier.”
Some of the older regular customers tend to knock on the window, and he’s happy to collect the beers together for them.
Over the years, Johnny has developed a great relationship with local breweries and wanted to impart a message to the people of Leeds regarding them.
He said: “Breweries that we stock, a lot of them are really small and independent. Buy their stuff. You hear stories about breweries sacrificing a lot, like mortgaging their house and investing all their money in to the brewery.”
Local breweries include Kirkstall Brewery, Northern Monk, North Brewing Company, to name a few.
Johnny gave out special mentions to “tiny little breweries” Anthology Brewing Company, Tartarus and Wilde Childe, all independents in Leeds.
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