Village gets its shop again

CELIA WIGG Having to dismantle their shop door to make room for a new chiller was just a minor setback for a couple who are opening their own convenience store.

CELIA WIGG

Having to dismantle their shop door to make room for a new chiller was just a minor setback for a couple who are opening their own convenience store.

Husband and wife Bruce Thorn and Linda Huntingford are bucking the national trend by launching their own trading company and re-opening the former post office stores at Newton Flotman.

Hundreds of rural communities across the region have lost their village shops in recent years, mainly due to competition from leading supermarket chains and a change in shopping trends.

But the couple, who live at nearby Long Stratton, are getting great support from villagers and friends who are beavering away to help them get ready in time for the opening ceremony next Monday.

And they plan to mirror the EDP's own Shop Local campaign by buying their fresh produce locally where possible.

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“The shop used to be run as a post-office stores by the lady who lives next door. She is in her seventies and there was a robbery within the last two years and when that happened she decided to give up,” said Mr Thorn, 58, who works for Marsh insurance brokers in Norwich.

“We heard about the shop and that people were saying there was nothing in Newton Flotman. Tesco is five miles away at Harford Bridge, Long Stratton is five miles in the other direction and there's nothing in between.

“We took over the lease four weeks ago and have set up our own limited company, L and B Stores. We are totally refitting the shop and are more or less on schedule, though today has been a bit of a setback because when the chill unit arrived it was four inches too wide and wouldn't go through the doorway.”

He added: “We will be selling general groceries, dairy produce, papers and fruit and veg which will be locally sourced and fresh as far as we can - obviously you don't get a lot of bananas in Norfolk.

“We are not having a post office, because of security issues, and that has been turned into a storeroom.”

His wife, who is 60, will be working closely with their two part-time staff, Michelle Ward and Alma Goddard.

The shop will initially open from 8am-6pm Monday to Saturday and 10am-4pm Sundays.

“We wanted to do something for the community and if there is a demand we may open earlier, or later in the evening,” she explained. “We asked around before we decided to go ahead and the people who live locally all thought they needed a shop.”

John Peterson, district councillor for Newton Flotman, will perform the grand reopening at 10am next Monday. Pupils from the village primary school will also be there to receive prizes for their winning designs in a shop poster competition.