We did it! After many months of planning, and some setbacks and delays along the way, we finally opened our new-look village store in Inkberrow, Worcestershire, one week ago. What a journey it has been; exhilarating and exhausting in equal measure. However, the feedback from the customers and the village folk has been amazing, making all the strains and stresses worth it.

In hindsight, I don’t think I can be too upset at the problems we faced during the works. A problem with the electrical contractor meant all the different professionals had to work around each other to accommodate each other’s issues.

When we began this project nearly two years ago, our vision for the site was built on a mass of ideas that we had accumulated over many years in the convenience sector. Ensuring the look and feel of the store was relevant to its local environment was always going to be a key factor in wowing the locals. Understanding the needs of the modern consumer and offering the meal-for-tonight solution was also put into the mix, along with 
a good food-to-go option, but with my own spin 
on how to do it.

As we complete little over one week of trading in the new store, I strongly believe there are three big factors as to why the new look store has been so warmly received. First, when we took over the business we were keen to retain the services of the existing staff and keep the boat steady. Then during the year-and-a-half of planning and getting the infrastructure ready, we kept a low profile and did not overly publicise our vision. Finally, during the shop works, which lasted nearly two weeks, we were still able to offer the village a good level of service by trading from the stockroom and using a side entrance for access to a mock-up shop.

Looking ahead, I am planning to work with the Parish Council and local school to officially launch the store by holding a fun day. It was always our plan to open in a low-key manner and allow the staff to become accustomed to their new working environment. In the next few weeks, when all snags have been fixed and the store is in the swing of things, we will look forward to having some fun and officially open the store fit for the future.