The village of Weston on the Green is home to more than 50 businesses, and one that has recently reinvented itself is the village’s Post Office and shop.
Under the new ownership of Yasemin Olcay, this essential local hub has been given a fresh new look and its new, improved service and super cheerful and helpful staff are already proving to be a huge hit with local people.
Yasemin, who lives in the village and has had family connections with Weston on the Green for many years, took the business over in April after 12 months of negotiating and planning.
Yasemin said: “I knew Helen who ran the shop quite well, and when she started talking about selling up I knew I wanted to buy it. We eventually moved in over the April bank holiday weekend, and with an army of friends and family we totally cleared the shop and made some changes to give it a new fresh look and feel.
“We like to stock as much local produce as we can, including free range eggs, fruit and vegetables and even honey and jams. We run a scheme called Friends Produce and encourage local producers to supply us-we then split the profits between the producer, the shop, the church and the village hall so the whole village benefits.”
As well as the local produce, Yasemin and her manageress Helen Nicholson have stocked the shop with daily essentials and a few indulgent treats.
Yasemin added: “We try and stock the things that people might forget but also have a few goodies for the larder and we carry a small range of meat products from local butcher Peter Goss. We are always happy to take orders for his products from customers and get them delivered to the shop the next day.
“On Tuesdays at about 5pm we have a fishmonger who visits and sells produce from his van. This is proving to be really popular.”
Supplies of strawberries and asparagus sold out quickly this year and Yasemin is hoping to add to the range of fresh produce by including more fresh bread. Marmite flat breads are also a big seller!
“I also really want to create a coffee shop by expanding the shop a bit but this will take time. We have tables and chairs out on the front and people really like to sit there and have a chat. I really think that local people want to support small rural businesses like this and many people like the fact that they don’t have to get in a car and drive to get their shopping. Lots more people are ordering their newspapers from us-I think when I took over we had about 12 regular orders and now we have more than 70!
“It also makes sense for people who perhaps live alone to be able to buy small quantities of fresh produce which you can’t always do in supermarkets-we are more than happy to sell one onion and a couple of potatoes to someone-that way they don’t end up throwing food away if it doesn’t get eaten.”
With many local businesses struggling, Yasemin’s approach to rural enterprise seems to be working-so what is the secret of her very rapid success?
She said: “I think it is very important to serve your customers with a smile! People like to come in and feel welcomed and then they stay for a chat-the shop is very much the hub of the village and very important to people. I also think it is important to keep the shop relatively small and offer as much varied stock as possible. Working with local suppliers is really important and engaging and supporting other businesses is vital.”
Manageress Helen added: “People love the shop and it is great to see so many local people making use of it. Every day more and more people are coming and in seem so amazed by what we are doing-it is great.”