John and Marie Vine of Newsworld Church Stretton ran the newsagents at its former location for 12 years, before deciding to merge with the hardware store across the street this July.
“It has been phenomenal,” says John. “The move has secured the future of both shops, there is no doubt about that. We open at 6am and you can buy a paper, milk, a sandwich, paint, a kettle, a toaster and a bar of chocolate.
“Newsworld is Church Stretton’s first department store. The only thing we don’t sell is alcohol because it led to our staff receiving abuse.”
Marie has lived and worked in Church Stretton for much of her life as her family owned a petrol station that used to be located in the town.
Alongside husband John, who had been in the army and run his own driving school, they opened Newsworld in 2007, and five years later bought the hardware store across the road.
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Today, the store offers a wide range of products, and John and Marie have found that combining the two stores has not only cut costs, but also driven up sales.
“We have seen news and magazine sales up 12% in the few months since we made the move,” John explains.
“The locals have been very positive and the store is a nice place to be with a great view over the Shropshire landscape. It’s like an old-fashioned store, with a bit of everything.”
Church Stretton is a pretty village with a population of around 8,000 people, and John and Marie are proud to serve the community.
“We have a Co-op and a family shop nearby, but you can’t get a tin of paint or a toaster in them,” John says. “We employ people to install and attend to TV aerials and washing machines. We are a one-stop shop for everything.”
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Despite Newsworld Church Stretton boasting a haberdashery, hardware and kitchen sections, a coffee machine and premium chocolate ranges, newspapers and magazines remain their top seller.
“We arrive at 5am every day and deliver 500 papers,” John says. “Our display gives customers the opportunity to stand back and have a good browse without having to move out the way of others in the store. We process £2,000-worth of vouchers a week and going forward will be conducting a campaign to boost our home news delivery (HND) sales.”
Aside from news and magazines, greetings cards have always proved a success, especially during the Christmas period. John says: “We sell £35,000-worth of greetings cards a year, and Christmas itself is worth £7,000. Since the move, sales for this part of the year are up 30%.”
While the early success has been clear, Marie was keen to stress that more change is still to come. “The store is still a work in progress,” she says.
“Shop fitting is the next step, and we are keen to redesign some of the old fixtures and do some painting. We went to enhance the haberdashery and offer more for kids.”
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Combining the two shops has not only brought down maintenance costs and rent, but has also meant that staff aren’t running between the two stores.
Furthermore, John and Marie realised they could use the space available in the hardware store in a more productive way.
“We sat down and looked at every metre in our shop and worked out what it was making and what it was costing to fill,” John explains. “We were quite harsh, and some products had to go.”
Marie and John know they are in a fortunate position, but advise other retailers to be determined when looking to make changes and improve their store.
“Don’t bury your head in the sand, do something about your failings,” John says. “Be positive and passionate and enjoy what you do. If you need to make a change, go for it.”
Inside our shop
John and Marie Vine opened Newsworld in 2007
In 2012, they bought a hardware store and combined the two stores on the site of the hardware store in July
The store has a haberdashery and a specialist hardware goods area
Newsworld is a family-run business, and John’s mum and brother work in the store
The store is open from 6am until 5.30pm every day and runs an HND service that delivers to 500 customers
Despite the new configuration, Newsworld Church Stretton remains a vibrant community hub and has boosted sales as a result
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