When the Covid-19 pandemic hit last year publican Barrie Walden of The Ponthir House Inn in Ponthir, Newport, came to the aid of local residents by opening a pop-up village shop in the dining area of the pub offering a range of essentials including fresh fruit and vegetables.
The Ponthir House Inn is one of two pubs in Ponthir, which has a population of approximately 1,500 people. The village has a school, two churches, a village hall, cricket and football teams and a farm shop on the edge of the village mainly selling animal feedstuff, logs and bottled gas.
The service was much needed by residents as the local shop in the village had shut sometime ago, public
transport is limited and the nearest town is over three miles away. The store proved so popular with people living locally that Barrie decided to make it a permanent fixture.
He approached Pub is The Hub in January 2021 to see if the organisation could help. His application was dealt with virtually, due to the restrictions of the pandemic, but Pub is The hub could see the store would have a great benefit to the community from the level of support shown by the villagers.
The log cabin shop, which sells essentials such as milk, bread, fruit and vegetables, was opened in the pub’s car park, with the expert help and a Community Services Fund grant from Pub is The Hub, the not-for-profit organisation that helps pubs to diversify and provide essential local services.
Outcomes so far
- The shop has proved such a success that there are plans to launch a delivery service to help many vulnerable people within the village
- The store has made the pub accessible to more people in the village and the layout of the log cabin has enabled customers to feel safe with social distancing.
- Customers are socialising as part of the trip to the shop and this is helping to address issues surrounding loneliness and social isolation.
Lessons to learn
- Do your due diligence before opening any service. Barrie spoke to the previous owner of the village store that had been closed down. He advised Barrie of what products had been popular in the area such as fresh fruit and vegetables.
- Get the support of local people and community groups for the proposed service. Local group Friends of Ponthir gave its support to the plans for the local store and described the shop that Barrie set up within the pub during the Covid pandemic as being “fundamental for the support that the local community has needed, particularly the elderly.”
Pub is The Hub regional advisor Malcolm Harrison said: “This store is a much-needed service for the local village of Ponthir.
“It has been a huge benefit to local customers and the wider community.”