Sherlock’s shopkeeper

By Chris Cornford Nov 22, 2020

Meet Sherlock’s shopkeeper! For 50 years, Freshwater folk have known where to find Mark Orchard: hard at work at Orchard Bros, a traditional grocer’s and convenience store that’s been in the same family since 1865. Customers have included two Prime Ministers, and the family of Sherlock star Benedict Cumberbatch. They’ve all visited the institution to stock up on local goodies and essentials including fruit, veg, milk and cakes.

Orchard Bros got through the 1970 invasion, when thousands of visitors descended on the village, for the iconic Isle of Wight Festival at Afton. That was Mark’s first shift. And now this year, they’ve got through one lockdown, they’re getting through the second, and they’re still going strong. But it’s been tough!

Mark says: “I’ve worked my way up from filling shelves to running the store, and I’ve worked harder this year than in all my life.”

The beginning of 2020 was quiet, but then lockdown hit. “Suddenly all the shelves were stripped,”recalls Mark. “First it was toilet rolls, then pasta, then tinned tomatoes and then everything was gone!” Demand for deliveries took them to breaking point: “I did think about shutting up. But then I realised that people needed us.”

Mark encourages Islanders to shop locally. “If you don’t use it, you lose it,” he says. At Orchard Bros, they sell lots of local produce, organic foods … and something that the locals can’t do without: Mark’s famous home-cooked ham. “I make one or two a day, and more around Christmas,” he says.
Customers over the years have included two former Prime Ministers – James Callaghan and Ted Heath, who sent a letter of thanks. The actor Benedict Cumberbatch, who plays Sherlock Holmes in BBC’s Sherlock, has enjoyed their food too. “His mother-in-law used to come in and get all the nice things for the family! They like organic food and anything healthy,” says Mark. “All our customers are important to us. This year, we’ve seen a lot of new faces – and we’re pleased that they’ve found us because we’re doing our best!”

Orchard Bros, Victoria Rd, Freshwater PO40 9PX
Tel: 01983 752036

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