Published: 13:36, 28 October 2020
| Updated: 13:38, 28 October 2020
Shops across the country have been closing down, hit by a Covid recession.
But one new shop has just opened in Kings Hill in defiance of the virus.
Viners on the Hill is a gift and boutique shop in the heart of Kings Hill at 7 Queen Street. It sells flowers, spa products, jewellery, confectionery and art as well as greetings cards and gift wrap.
It has been opened by the Gardner family, who also own Viner and Son funeral directors in West Malling High Street.
Charlotte Gardner said: "We became very aware that the Covid lockdown brought many difficulties. It left people on their own even more isolated and unable to socialise. It left a lot of small traders and artisans who would usually sell their products at markets or fairs with nowhere to go, and it left organisations like schools, who often depended on those fairs for their own fund-raising, out of pocket."
The Gardners see their new venture as a philanthropic way to help remedy all those troubles.
Mrs Gardner said: "We have partnered with many local businesses, sourcing our products from local artisans where possible, in order to maximise the benefit towards our community."
The shop is supporting the three Kings Hill schools by donating to them 50% from the sale of its hand-painted Christmas cards range.
She said: "Nearly all of our suppliers are within 20 miles, and most are from Kings Hill and West Malling
"Many self-employed entrepreneurs any local businesses have experienced devastating losses and had to close.
"But we hope the introduction of Viners on the Hill to Kings Hill has started to turn things around and provide a much-needed glimmer of positivity for hundreds of people."
The business is very much a family affair: Charlotte and her husband James own the business, her father-in-law Tom created the shop displays, her mother-in-law Wendy designed and sewed the staff uniforms, her nephew Oliver Gardner does the marketing and her daughters Georgina, 14, and Isabella, 11 cut the tape at the shop's opening.
Viners on the Hill is open from Monday to Saturday, from 8.30am to 5pm, and on Sunday from 10am to 4pm. There is free delivery to homes in Kings Hill.
Mrs Gardner said: "The reception we've had since opening has been fantastic.There's a real feeling of community behind us."
Viners on the Hill will also be able offer advice on funeral arrangements and may be more convenient for disabled customers than Viners and Sons in West Malling, as there disabled parking close by and wide doors at the shop.