January’s Retailer - Heath Stores
Built in the late 17th century, Heath Stores enjoys a prominent location overlooking the Heath in the Wealden village of Horsmonden.
In September 2011 a new chapter in Heath Stores’ history opened when Andrew Mills, who was brought up in the village, and his wife Kate, took over the shop.
Although it is hard to believe it now, Kate and Andrew were pharmaceutical scientists with no retail experience. However, they felt drawn to revive an ailing store and return it to its rightful place at the centre of this attractive Kent village.
The couple’s vision was to create a fusion of a convenience store with a farm shop, offering a place where locals could source all essential groceries at excellent value for money, while at the same time offering artisan, local, luxury and ethical products that would draw additional customers from further afield.
It has proved a highly successful formula. The shop, which underwent an extensive and costly refit, still retains its essential charm but is now stocked with a plethora of carefully selected local products including meat, dairy, bread, pies, delicatessen items and, of course, fruit and vegetables.
Kate and Andrew really believe in supporting local food producers, including local winemakers and brewers. They even offer a local curry range, plus Cook frozen ready meals. Local suppliers, including Goupie, also regularly come in to hold tasting sessions and support one of the finest local retailers.
At one of these session Goupie’s Joe Simpson heard an exchange that sums up Kate and Andrew’s achievement. Holding a tasting session in the run up to Christmas, Joe greeted a large family group as they entered the store. On being asked if they wanted to try Goupie, Joe was told: “No, I’ve not come here to shop today. I just wanted to show my sister and her family our local shop. It’s really the hub of the village now, and I’m just so proud of it.”
There is nothing to add … Heath Stores is local retailing at its finest. In breathing fresh life into Heath Stores, Andrew and Kate have given Horsmonden back its heart.
The couple’s achievements have not gone unrewarded. Apart from a 300% + boost in turnover, Heath Stores has won a number of awards, including Kent Community Retailer of the Year 2014 and Convenience Store magazine’s Community Retailer of the Year. In 2016 Heath Stores was named the UK’s Best Village Shop at the Countryside Alliance Awards: the supreme accolade in this retail category.
• Full range of groceries, fresh local produce and convenience food
• Wide delicatessen range including local cheese and home cooked ham
• Fresh bread and cakes from Plaxtol bakery
• Filled rolls and sandwiches, prepared in-store
• Off licence
• Outreach post office
• Tchibo coffee and hot drinks to-go
Goupie, Joans (preserves), Chai Stop (curries), Olives R Good 4U, Horsmonden Wines, Biddenden (cider and apple juice), Owlets apple juice Speldhurst sausages, Quex (Kent crisps), Simply Ice Cream, O'er the Moon (fudge), Hepworth Brewery, Old Dairy Brewery, Tonbridge Brewery, Westerham Brewery, Cook (frozen ready meals), Chapel Down (wines, ciders and beers), Hush Heath (wines), Harrington’s Benenden sauce, Anno (gin), High Weald Dairy (cheeses) and Cheesemakers of Canterbury.