Another stand-out aspect of the store is its ranging, using Booker to cover the basics and a network of local and online sources to deliver differentiation and higher margins.
“Working with a lot of different suppliers for local produce does require a lot of engagement, we have local jams, milk, honey, eggs, bread, cheese, meats, fruit and veg, and we’ve sourced our card ranging from online rather than from a rep,” he says.
“The result is that people travel further to visit us.”
The same goes for the store’s community post office counter. By hiring an experienced former sub-postmaster, Mar and Paul say they can ensure a better service for customers, especially on complex transactions. “We are getting visits from people in other villages with post offices where the service hasn’t been right.”
With strong sales and margin growth, Mar, a former coffee shop worker, and Paul,
a former postman, show that being new to the industry isn’t a barrier to success.
“It was challenging. We didn’t get a great deal of support from the previous owner – it was ‘here’s the keys, get going’. We picked it up as we went along and learnt from our mistakes,” he says.
It wasn’t just the industry that was new, it was the area too. But three years on, these Londoners are firmly settled in the sticks. “It was baffling at first, people are just so much more friendly, but we love it now. I’ve never had a town shop, but I’d imagine it can be hard with such high footfall to have that interaction with the customers. In here, if you get involved with the community, they support you back.”