Greens, founded in 1924, is among a variety of family-owned businesses in Lisburn which play their part in maintaining the vitality of the city centre as it increasingly faces competition from out-of-town concerns.
The Black family took over in 1970, with Rowan Black having been managing director for two decades. The premises have grown by a factor of 20 since the company first opened and today Greens occupies 12,000sq ft and has around 100 staff.
Customers entering the shop are faced with an old-fashioned interior with a maze of departments. First-time shoppers may feel a little lost at first but there is ample signage.
The store’s element of surprise is created by the different sections and alcoves. The traditional shop fittings and furniture, together with the chatty atmosphere, give it a homely feel. Indeed more like a local village store in terms of friendliness. This is partly due to the large number of staff, some of whom have been working there for more than 30 years. Often the customers and staff address each other by name. It comes as no surprise that the company supports various local charities.
The aromas from the Coffee Dock and the bakery, along with the background music, add to a relaxed air.
The Coffee Dock, located near the cheese counter, provides a welcome resting place for the foot-weary. The concept, innovative at the time, was picked up by Rowan’s father while he was travelling in Austria.
The selection of nearly 100 cheeses is largely sourced from European markets, whereas the meat counter supports local suppliers. The Hot Bread Kitchen and Deli counter offers a wide range of pates and salads.
Up to 300 customers, many of them regulars, come through the door per hour and today the grown-up children of Greens’ long-standing customers shop at the store.
Rowan recognises the importance of the website as orders can be placed online. For a small charge the store will deliver to the area around Lisburn, Hillsborough and South Belfast.
Will, the long-serving driver, provides a much-appreciated service. All year round, Greens sell a selection of hampers, which range in price from £20 to £75.
Unusually for an independent grocer, Greens run hundreds of card accounts. The store’s customer card not only gives the option of paying for groceries up to 30 days after purchase but also provides various incentives and benefits.
Anyone shopping in Lisburn can pop into Greens and experience tradition, good service and a bit of atmosphere.
23-25 Bow Street,