The owners of independent shop in a quiet Cornish location are celebrating beating the odds next month, whilst looking back over years of hard work and determination.
St Day General Store at 12 Church Street in St Day is marking 15 years in business on August 1, achieving their mission to support village life, despite being warned of the likelihood of failure by many from the outset.
Martin and Lorna Rose took rental of the property from Tom and Ray (Ariana) Jeffereys, who retired from running a charity shop on the premises until 2007, which supported causes such as the local chapel and an orphanage abroad.
The couple’s intention was to supply the village with fresh, quality produce, which was fairly priced and locally grown where possible, along with other cooking ingredients and household staples, supporting local farms/industries and village life.
Lorna explains: “We wanted to provide a local village shop that cared and listened to the needs of residents with regards to food and household supplies, whilst supporting other local businesses by carefully choosing suppliers. We also wanted to help to improve and support activities within the village by doing what we could for the school, community projects, local rugby, football and cricket teams.”
They also aimed to be as plastic free as possible, by selling many unwrapped items, which enabled customers to buy as much or as little as they needed, reducing waste as well as packaging.
Martin reflects: “Living in the village ourselves, we struggled to buy a good range of local fresh fruit and vegetables and other ingredients. With retail experience, I knew Lorna and I could deliver this, alongside excellent service by ensuring we listened to our customer’s needs. We really wanted to make sure each customer had a good shopping experience and felt valued, no matter who they were or how much or little they were buying. We hope that our many loyal customers over the years means that we have achieved this and we are so grateful to them all.”
15 years of hard work and three children later, the Rose family have built a loyal customer base, enabling them to purchase the building five years ago, making it the family home as well as the family business.
Despite their success, there have been many challenges over the years, including warnings from the outset of failure (against a backdrop of many similar struggling businesses), costly refits to maximize space, researching different lines of stock to ensure plenty of choice for vegan, gluten and dairy free, and most recently the impact of Covid.
Martin continues: “Dealing with the running of the shop while looking after the health and safety of our family, staff and customers during Covid has been very difficult. We also had to deal with the challenges that came with anti-maskers when everyone was feeling so frightened, especially as a close friend died right at the beginning.”
But by far the biggest challenge faced has been the loss of Tom and Ray Jeffereys, who were like family to the Roses and supported their venture from the outset.
Lorna adds: “Losing our lovely landlord and landlady, Tom and Ray Jeffereys, crushed our family’s hearts. Ray was a lovely lady and she treated our children like her own grandchildren, taking them to Sunday school and outings. Ray and Tom were so supportive when we took the shop on. They didn’t even charge us rent while we did the shop up or charge us for our first month of trading. They gave us lots of advice and wisdom from their days of running the shop as a Mace shop. When they died, it left a massive hole in our lives. It was really hard moving into the house because it was an experience that we would have wanted to share with them whilst they were alive. But I’m sure they are still here looking after us as there’s such a warm happy feeling in our home”.
To mark the 15-year milestone, St Day General Store will be getting a “face lift”, alongside a special surprise – to be revealed soon.
There are also plans to make the shop as carbon neutral as possible, including talks with a local solar company.
In the meantime, Martin and Lorna Rose would like to thank their children who have “put up with Mum and Dad working long hours and having to wait to speak to us while serving customers patiently and for their help and support through the good and bad times ”.
They would also like to thank their families for helping them in various ways, including getting the shop ready with painting, shelf building, filling the shelves and baby sitting on occasion.
Martin and Lorna are also grateful to the accounts department at Blackwell and Goldsworthy, in particular Joyce Bassett – their fantastic book keeper, who is retiring.
Last but not least, Martin and Lorna would like to thank their lovely staff and customers over the years that have made it the success that it is.
Lorna added: “And of course, we are so grateful to Tom and Ariana Jefferey’s for believing in us and giving us the opportunity to make St Day General Store what it is today”.