Meet your local: Cerne Abbas Stores

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This month Rachael Rowe met Jen Daly and Ken Peet, London expats who are the proud owners of the thriving Cerne Abbas Stores

image Rachael Rowe

‘We arrived with the Beast from the East in 2018, and on day one, we had no milk or newspapers.’
For Jen Daly and Ken Peet, arrival in Cerne Abbas was a challenge. But what inspired them to come to one of Dorset’s most beautiful villages?
Jen said: “We were both working in London and looking for a change. We looked at various businesses, not just village shops – and this one kept coming up. We loved the village and fell in love with the shop. When we arrived in all the snow, people kept telling us ‘Dorset doesn’t get snow’!
‘Cerne Abbas is such a great village. People really support local businesses. There aren’t many villages with three pubs, shops and a GP practice.
‘We have concentrated on getting as much fresh local produce as possible in the shop. So we have fresh fish and fresh meat, and most are locally sourced. We have also adapted to the village. The pandemic was awful, but we still do home deliveries to people who cannot get to the shop.’
The shop is also a tourist information hub and has a Post Office. There’s an excellent range of maps for walkers and no end of tempting treats for a picnic. And many products have the famous Cerne Abbas Giant logo, reflecting the local attraction and appealing to visitors.

‘We arrived with the Beast from the East in 2018, and on day one, we had no milk or newspapers.’
For Jen Daly and Ken Peet, arrival in Cerne Abbas was a challenge. But what inspired them to come to one of Dorset’s most beautiful villages?
Jen said: “We were both working in London and looking for a change. We looked at various businesses, not just village shops – and this one kept coming up. We loved the village and fell in love with the shop. When we arrived in all the snow, people kept telling us ‘Dorset doesn’t get snow’!
‘Cerne Abbas is such a great village. People really support local businesses. There aren’t many villages with three pubs, shops and a GP practice.
‘We have concentrated on getting as much fresh local produce as possible in the shop. So we have fresh fish and fresh meat, and most are locally sourced. We have also adapted to the village. The pandemic was awful, but we still do home deliveries to people who cannot get to the shop.’
The shop is also a tourist information hub and has a Post Office. There’s an excellent range of maps for walkers and no end of tempting treats for a picnic. And many products have the famous Cerne Abbas Giant logo, reflecting the local attraction and appealing to visitors.

It’s a family business – Jen with her mum Kate in the stores
All images: Rachael Rowe

Meet the team
‘It’s Ken and me! My Mum retired about ten years ago and helps behind the counter, and we also have three girls who work in the shop.’

What’s flying off the shelves?
‘We have lovely smoked salmon from Severn and Wye. Cerne Abbas beer is really popular – the brewery is a mile up the road. And our cheeses. We have a large local and continental selection. We also have a huge baked range, including sausage rolls and Cornish pasties.’

Some of the appetising cheeses inside the Cerne Abbas Stores

Who are your local suppliers?
‘Well, we have more than 70 suppliers in this shop. We have Dorset Brie and Dorset Blue Vinny. There aren’t that many places where you can make up a complete cheeseboard (blue, hard, smoked, soft, goats, sheep) sourcing within a 20-mile radius. We also have Viper Gin made in the village and Conker is another Dorset brand. There are also jams and chutneys From Dorset With Love. Our milk comes from a mile up the road and is distributed in reusable bottles from the vending machine.’

Your biggest challenge?
‘Once we had learned how to actually run a shop – the pandemic! We were early to shut the doors here, and set up a table in the doorway. It was exhausting. Everyone’s shopping changed, people did not buy routinely, making ordering harder. We tried not to have too much stock, and luckily, being independent, we were not reliant on one place. Also, we never ran out of loo roll!
My sister-in-law was here helping out and she clocked up five miles a day, walking from the stall to the back of the shop to get bread and milk for people!’

Cerne Abbas Stores stocks a wide range from local suppliers, along with Cerne Giant gifts and hampers

What are you most proud of?
‘I think I’m most proud of how we’ve become part of the community. My mum is very popular and knows everyone! She’s always chatting with people.’

What’s next for the Stores?
‘We’d like to keep expanding our local food ranges and the high-end quality products at a fair price. We’re also planning to develop our online hamper service.’

Cerne Abbas Stores
9 Long Street, DT2 7JF
www.facebook.com/CerneAbbasStores/
Monday to Saturday
8am to 6pm
Sundays 8am to 1pm

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