A husband and wife team managed to open a village store in only two weeks, opening just in time for England’s second national lockdown.
Emma and John Hitchins opened the shop with the support of Pub is The Hub, the not-for-profit organisation that helps pubs to diversify and provide essential local services.
As lockdown loomed, the publicans of The Bell Inn in Leigh-on-Mendip, Somerset, quickly realised the village – that has around 500 houses and limited public transport – was in need of a shop, as the nearest was at least two miles away.
The Bell Inn opened the store with the help of a £3,000 grant from the Pub is the Hub Community Services Fund. The shop sells a range of essentials, including fresh milk from a local farmer, fruit, vegetables, bread, meat, cereals, eggs and drinks. Lockdown has prompted the publicans to increase the range of products to include items such as nappies, shampoo and conditioner.
“This must be the quickest ever creation of a village store at a pub,” says regional advisor for Pub is The Hub Reg Clarke. “The pure hard work and determination of Emma and John to get this store open in time for the latest national lockdown has provided a fantastic new service for the village.”
The pub is also offering a takeaway meal service, including roast dinners on Sundays.