Publicans Martin Steele and Laura Cook have opened a village shop at The George Inn at Tiffield, Northamptonshire, with the help and support of local residents and Pub is The Hub, the not-for-profit organisation that helps pubs to diversify and provide essential local services.
The couple took on the pub in July 2020 just as the industry was opening up after the first Covid-19 lockdown. After an extensive refurbishment The George was reopened in August with great support from the local residents.
By the second lockdown the enterprising publicans realised that there was demand for a village shop. Many local residents did not want to travel as they were elderly and vulnerable and there was also a need to help combat the social isolation of lockdown.
A grant from the Pub is The Hub Community Services Fund meant that one of the rooms at the pub was transformed into a shop. Villagers helped to give their time to help get the shop up and running too.
The shop, which opens daily between 12pm-2pm, offers essentials such as bread, milk, eggs, cheese and toilet rolls.
In support of other local businesses the publicans sourced from producers including local butcher HWJ Pargiter Butchers to sell warm sausage rolls, pasties and pork pies at lunchtime. A new coffee machine also means that the pub is now able to offer takeaway hot drinks.
Gluten-free bakery, The Little Bakery of Happiness provides the shop with pies, cakes and tarts, while previous Tiffield resident, Steve Reid from Friars Farm, supplies homemade pickles and jam. Eggs are delivered each week from a farm at Greens Norton and there are twice weekly bread deliveries from Whittlebury Bakery.
There is also a book swap at the shop where locals can borrow and add any books. The pub is also offering a takeaway menu with toasties, bagels and paninis along with evening meals such as fish & chips and sausage & mash.
Publican Laura Cook said: “Since we took on the pub last year the local residents have been fully supportive. We really appreciated the support of locals in helping us to get the shop open. There was a real need for a shop locally offering essentials, takeaway food items and good coffee and we have been delighted at how popular it is proving.
She adds: “It was also important that we were able to connect with locals that were feeling isolated and needed support at this difficult time through the village shop. They have really enjoyed being able to walk to the shop and have a quick chat. We cannot wait to welcome everyone back to the pub when we are able to reopen.”
Regional advisor for Pub is The Hub Dave Allan said: “Publicans Laura and Martin have really made themselves part of the local area in a short space of time.
“The village shop has become a crucial amenity for those living locally and has helped to keep the spirits up of many in the local area.”