New village shop comes to the aid of customers

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An enterprising Devon pub that supported its local community during the pandemic has opened a new village shop with the support of Pub is The Hub, the not-for-profit organisation that helps pubs to diversify and provide essential local services.

The Red Lion Inn in Shobrooke, near Crediton opened the shop with the help of a £3,000 grant from the Pub is the Hub Community Services Fund.

The Pub is The Hub grant enabled the development of a room situated just off the main front door of the pub. It helped with building works including fitted shelving and a purpose built counter as well as the purchase of a fridge and freezer.

During lockdown in March, the pub which has been run by wife and husband Jane Johnson and Steve Johnson and daughter Natalie Dyson for the last nine years, decided to set up a telephone and online food ordering service. Customers could pick up a box of groceries that included meat, fish and local produce outside the pub and pay online or with bank transfer to ensure social distancing.

During this time the pub also offered a meals-on-wheels service for vulnerable customers and a takeaway meals service.

Publican Jane Johnson said: “When we went into lockdown we were determined to keep the business going.

“We had previously considered opening a village shop and lockdown gave us the time to think more about it. After talking to local people we decided that the village needed a local shop as the nearest supermarket is a few miles away.

“The shop has been a lifeline to the village and is a much needed amenity.” 

The Shobrooke Village Shop and pub also has the backing of local Central Devon MP Mel Stride who visited the premises in August in support of the plans.

Regional advisor for Pub is The Hub Reg Clarke said: “This village shop is already proving to be a real asset to the local community.

“Jane, Steve and Natalie really went above and beyond to help the local community during these recent difficult times.

“It takes a lot of commitment to do a project like this while running a local pub during a pandemic.”

Image left to right: Publicans Natalie Dyson and Jane Johnson in The Shobrooke Village Shop.