Hartlepool pub The Raby Arms in Hart opens grocery shop during covid lockdown, giving village its first store in years
A pub forced to stop trading normally due to the ongoing pandemic has opened its own village shop.
The Raby Arms, in Hart, aims “to provide what the community needs” following the closure of the village’s last permanent store around a decade ago.
The pub, which already generates revenue by offering takeaway meals during lockdown, is now selling a host of essential items such as toilet rolls and bleaches as well as milk, cheese, bread and fresh fruit and vegetables.
Newspapers – including the Hartlepool Mail – are available and so too home-made pies, quiches and cakes.
Joint manageress Kate Bruns, who runs the pub with Shelby Turner, said they had thought about opening a village shop even before the onset of the pandemic.
Miss Bruns added: “It is a different type of work to what we are used to even though it is mainly the same people you are serving.
"The response has been brilliant so far and everyone has been really supportive.
"We had one lady holding back on her supermarket shop and coming here instead with her shopping list.”
Hart residents usually face a bus or car journey, or a lengthy walk down the A179 to reach the nearest shops at Middle Warren.
After opening on February 10, Miss Bruns said: “It is on a trial basis for now to see what the response is like and we might change what we sell and our hours as we go along.
"We are aiming to provide what the community needs and we certainly appreciate the support we have had already.
"It was only about three weeks ago that we decided ‘let’s do it’ and we’ve gone hell for leather since.
"But it has been worthwhile so far and given us a nice warm feeling.”
The shop, which also serves takeaway drinks, is inside a marquee – bought last year to boost capacity when bubbles of six people were allowed to sit together – with Miss Bruns adding: “I know some people are scared of going to the shops.
"But there is plenty of space and ventilation here, we have sanitiser available and are following all the guidelines.”
Its initial hours will be Wednesdays and Thursdays from 9am-3pm, Thursdays and Fridays from 9am-8pm and Sundays from 10am-4pm.
Further details are available on (01429) 864287.