Pub’s pop-up prompts permanent shop and playground

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A Hertfordshire pub that set up a pop-up shop when Covid-19 hit in March has now opened a permanent shop and community playground for the village, thanks to local support and Pub is The Hub.

The Brewery Tap, owned and run by Elizabeth (Ebe) Bonner and her daughter Lucy, transferred the temporary pop-up shop they had established in the dining room of the pub to the permanent outbuilding adjacent to the pub at the end of June. They then unveiled the new community adventure playground in the garden soon after, providing two essential new services to support all age groups in the area.

Furneux Stores shop and deli is open on Tuesday to Friday from 10am to 3pm and on Saturday from 11am to 3pm serving a wide range of locally sourced Hertfordshire foods from Cure & Simple, Yare Valley Oils, Tiptree jams, Second Nature Soaps, Stickleback Fish Company, Dawlicious ice cream, Wine Story, Hertfordshire Honey and many more.

When the pubs were closed in March because of the Covid-19 pandemic, Ebe and Lucy came up with the idea of turning the dining area into a pop-up shop filled with essential goods from local suppliers. It then developed into an online and telephone grocery ordering service with more than 200 deliveries a week to those who were elderly or isolating.

The success of the shop, combined with the planned closure (not Covid-related) of the nearest village store in Braughing, meant that Ebe and Lucy soon realised that a permanent village shop was a much needed service, not just for essential provisions but also, and equally important, it provided a social opportunity for all age groups across the community.

With advisory support from Pub is The Hub they decided to replace two old sheds behind the kitchen with a new purpose-made shop unit. Pub is The Hub provided a grant and they received additional funding from the Parish Council; investment through an online Crowdfunding project with support from the Hertfordshire LEP, as well as adding their own investment.

Ebe Bonner said: “We bought the only remaining pub in our small, rural village in December 2018 and quickly turned it round to provide a hub for our community, as well as putting it on the map as a destination pub. Pre-Covid, we hosted a monthly book club, knit and stitch group and breakfast on Friday mornings for school Mums that turned into an impromptu toddler group. We were fully booked for Mothering Sunday and then Covid-19 struck.

“When we opened the pop-up shop, customers were delighted to have somewhere they could go that provided a safe environment that friendly and accessible. We attracted custom from not only all the local villages but towns too. We are enormously grateful to Pub is The Hub for the faith they have shown in our project that has inspired support from our parish council and local people.”

Buoyed by the success of the shop, Ebe and Lucy applied for further support from Pub is The Hub, the parish council and another Crowdfunder project to support the costs for the village community playground.

The new equipment includes swings, a slide and a climbing frame and is always accessible to anyone from the village, except at night when it will be shut up. Children can use the equipment only with supervision from a parent or carer.

Jeremy English, from Pub is The Hub commented: “The community spirit already whipped up by Ebe and Lucy in the area pre-Covid has meant that these two inspired ventures were always bound to be a success. Their pub is truly the hub for their village and we wish them well.”