Discover the faces and stories inside the village shop. This month we’ve been chatting to David Fawthrop who runs the Chettle Village store.
How did you end up at the shop?
I started at Chettle Village Store about six months ago with a background in retail management and business development. I have run a successful farm shop and Café near Bath, and I spent three years doing business development for a charity retail operation. Following a rocky 2020 (being made redundant twice in the space of three months), I needed a new challenge.
When I saw an advert for a ‘small village shop with big ambitions’ looking for a business development manager with a background in independent retail, I couldn’t believe my luck. Such a perfect role for me, and so close to home! Following a great conversation with the owner Alice Favre about her visions for the shop and the wider community, we found that we had a lot of shared concerns around the environment and the negative impact of intensive farming and supermarkets muscling out independent shops. I was offered the role, and so far it’s proven to be everything I hoped for.
How big is your team?
There are seven of us, a mix of Chettle residents and some from the neighbouring towns and villages. There’s always a friendly face in the shop to welcome you – a village shop isn’t just a place to buy your groceries and other essentials. We’re a cornerstone of the community, and a good chunk of the team’s day is spent catching up with locals and regulars and maintaining those invaluable relationships that make Chettle such a great community to be a part of.
Is there a ‘shop pet’?
Technically no… but the shop backs on to the neighbour’s garden, and we see a lot of their cat, several chickens, and two ducks called Crumpet and Mable who like hanging out in my office.
Their lovely rascal of a dog called Moo quite often takes the opportunity to make a bolt for freedom through the shop forcing the staff to give chase, much to the entertainment of customers enjoying a pie and a coffee outside!
What’s flying off the shelves?
It’s the Pies! Pies Pies Pies!
We sell a range of cooked pies and pasties that are renowned throughout the local area, and we get new customers on a daily basis telling us that they have heard by word of mouth how good our pies are. We’ve had
to start offering them frozen to cook at home too! But people come for the pies and stay for the other local products we sell; including the wide selection of vegan, gluten free, dairy free and environmentally conscious foods we offer.
Tell us about your local suppliers?
We’re really proud of our relationship with local suppliers and are always keen to hear from local businesses, especially ones that share our values for locally sourced, organic, and sustainably produced goods. We get organic, ethically sourced meat from Angel Cottage near Okeford Fitzpaine, organic bread from Long Crichel, cider from the Cranborne Chase, and fruit and veg grown naturally and unsprayed from Wimborne St. Giles. Overall, we have about a dozen suppliers based with 10 miles, and another 20 based within 30 miles.
What’s been your biggest challenge since taking over? What are you proud of?
Making sure we don’t become victims of our own success! This summer was the busiest in the shop’s history; bolstered by the campsite in the village and the thousands of tourists who would usually be off to Spain or Greece for their holidays. Keeping our tiny shop well stocked, keeping the staffing levels up and maintaining customer service whilst being more than twice as busy as usual has been challenging. I’ve been doing my fair share of 60 hour weeks!
What part of the shop is your absolute favourite?
It’s a cliché, but my favourite thing about the shop is the people. I get a tremendous sense of satisfaction from happy customers, and seeing staff go the extra mile.
What are you most proud of?
It’s the extra little things that we do for the community; yes we are running a shop, but we are also happy to take parcel deliveries for people in the village, stock cards and postcards designed by artists who shop with us,
sell tickets for local events, sell produce grown in the village to raise money for community projects such as tree planning, or order in special requests to save villagers having to make a trip to a bigger town. We support local businesses and are at the heart of everything that makes Chettle so unique and special.
What’s happening now?
A big focus for us is minimising wastage. Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last 10 years, you’ll know coffee cups are a big offender! We recently started working with the Eco Coffee Company, a local coffee supplier, and now have fully bio-degradable takeaway coffee cups. We’ll shortly have a new coffee machine which collects the coffee grounds to turn in to fuel briquettes, used to roast the next batch of coffee. Lastly, we’ll be offering big discounts to customers who bring their own cups – keep an eye on Facebook and Instagram for details.
Huge plans! We’re bursting at the seams, and whilst the current shop is full of character, lack of space is holding us back. The plan is to move a few yards down the road to the old dairy farm. This is a big project, and will allow us to open a café as well. But moving the shop is just a small part of a much bigger vision for Chettle. We’re planning to overhaul food production in the village, producing much more of our own food using organic, sustainable, and agroecological farming techniques. The vision is to build a sustainable community, and the shop and café will be the public face of this vision for decades to come.
The Chettle Village Store is easily found by following the signs from the A354 between Blandford and Salisbury. The shop is in the heart of the village with ample roadside parking just opposite the playpark. If you’re condiering a pie, we recommend phoning to pre-order on 01258 830223
Opening hours are 8:30-18:00 Monday to Saturday, 10:00-14:00 on Sundays and Bank Holidays.
By: Laura Hitchcock