It takes a mixture of pride, vision and leadership to run a successful store – something that Janette Tucker knows very well.
“All my staff are equal, nobody has a title. Perhaps I’m the captain of the ship and everyone else is the crew,” she says.
After working in Woolworths for nine years, Janette dived into the world of convenience, teaming up with L&F Jones Holdings, now Jones Food Solutions, and managing a store in Wells before moving operations to Winscombe.
Not long after she arrived, the store went through a major refit and became a Lifestyle Express. “The first thing I did when I came in the office was clear it out. I started from one corner of the shop and cleaned and scrubbed my way round,” she says.
Looking around the store, it’s clear to see her satisfaction in having the fixtures “just so”, with everything faced up and nothing out of place.
As well as having an appealing store, Janette knows her customers by their first names and makes sure they know her too. It doesn’t just help with the store’s standing with the community, it also helps with sales, she says.
“We’ve started asking: ‘Did you find everything you were looking for?’ That’s how we found out to get fresh meat, chewing gum bottles and a baking range,” she explains.
But for Janette, there’s more to looking out for customers than that. At one point she talks about a ‘magic chair’ in her office, and explains: “We have a customer who can hardly walk so we get her from her car, bring her into the shop and sit her on the magic chair while we do her shopping.”
Janette says the store is now in a place where they can make the most of Winscombe’s vibrant village spirit. A baking event, drawing competition and Christmas sampling is in the pipeline.
“Getting involved in the community is the difference we have between us and the Co-op. I’m planning to speak to the schools about doing something for the children at Christmas,” she says.
With an Asda 10 minutes down the road, offering customers good value is imperative for the store and Janette is the first to admit she’s passionate about promotions.
“I love getting my teeth into promotions and I like setting them up. You get to know what works and you start to think like the customer,” she explains.
Another way Janette offers good value is by running a home news delivery service for 157 people in the village.
“Customers can either pay monthly with an invoice or they can pay when they come in the shop each week,” she says. “We’re the only store here who does that.”
The plan for the store now is to drive mealtime sales and to inspire shoppers while helping them get what they need quickly.
“I want a fridge to do something like Marks & Spencer does and have wine, salads, baguettes, and meals next to each other,” she says. “You could have a meal deal once a week and we’ve got the fresh meat now so there’s nothing stopping us.”