Published: 17:14, 19 March 2021
| Updated: 16:06, 20 March 2021
An historic pub has transformed a disused barn into a village’s only shop to save elderly residents from having to go online and on mile-long walks for their groceries.
FitzWalter Arms licensee Lynn Fisher says she opened the store on the 400-year-old tavern’s garden in Goodnestone, near Canterbury, to give locals somewhere nearby to purchase essentials.
Soon after the publican took over the watering hole in July, she was approached by parish councillors to convert the run-down structure into the business.
“It’s a great little village and they didn’t have anything round here for the essentials,” Ms Fisher explained.
“There is a farm shop that’s a good mile outside the village or you’ve got Wingham and Aylesham which are about two miles away respectively – they’re walkable, but there’s nothing here.
“The village shop shut years ago and they have a visiting post office on Mondays and Fridays in the church for a couple of hours.
“It gives the older population somewhere to come to get their milk, fresh breads and chocolate. It was needed and it’s been supported.”
Ms Fisher cleared old stacks of furniture that had accumulated from the alehouse before transforming it into the store, called Barn Find Stores.
A £3,000 grant from not-for-profit organisation Pub is the Hub also helped her fund the makeover.
Ms Fisher believes the venture will help support the Shepherd Neame boozer, which dates back to 1589.
Pub is The Hub regional advisor Tim Tempest said: “This shop is set to be a lifeline to the village.
“The pandemic underlined the need for an affordable and accessible shop facility to support local people especially those that are vulnerable and suffering from social isolation.”
The shop is open every day and sells locally sourced meat, fruit and vegetables, a selection of fresh bread and takeaway snacks and coffees.
Customers are also be able to get their hands on products made by villagers, including carpentry.
“It’s an add-on to the pub business so that one can support the other during lockdown,” Ms Fisher continued.
“When we reopen, we plan to continue with the shop, with tables outside to serve coffee and cakes.”