Having always been food lovers, Paul and Jo saw Holybourne Shop & Post Office as a chance to turn their passion into a livelihood. Three years ago last October, they left their jobs to move into the shop with their daughter, Sophia and dog, Stanley. Stanley greets customers with a wagging tail and most know him by name, some even bringing treats as he patrols his patch. He’s not the only one to have settled into the area well, it is clear by the constant flow of customers that Holybourne Shop & Post Office is the hub of the local community. In March this year, Paul and Jo renovated the shop removing the vinyl tiles and metal shelves to reveal beautiful original brickwork which they have showed off with stunning wooden shelves and industrial style lighting. The result is fresh and welcoming and has gone down really well with customers. “It was when we were able to refurbish the shop that I really fell in love with it. Until then we were managing to fill it with the local produce that we wanted to sell but the environment wasn’t doing it justice. We are really pleased with the look we have achieved and now it really feels like ours to play with.” Jo explains. Sourcing the best local ingredients was always a top priority for the couple and they have managed to stay true to this vision. Local cheese, wine, beer, gin, charcuterie, pickles, jams, chocolates, trout and more fill the shelves. Saturday tastings are a chance for customers to try before they buy and there are plans for exciting foodie events in the future. Taking on the shop without any retail experience has been a learning experience for them both as Paul explains: “We had no idea what a core part of the business and our time newspapers would be. We are up before 4.30am every day to prepare the papers and co-ordinate 40 delivery rounds. The hours are long and it’s hard to take a holiday but it is worth it to be in control of our own business.” A big factor in their decision to take on the shop was the pursuit of a better balance in life for their family. Jo reflects on whether this has been achieved: “Whilst we work all hours, from Sophia’s perspective we are around and available. We make sure one of us drops her off and picks her up from school each day and we live above the shop so the commute is short. We can be present far more than either of us could previously.” With the couple’s creativity and passion it is clear that this is just the beginning for Holybourne Shop & Post Office. The local community is fortunate to have such a pair at the helm. And as for Stanley, due to popular demand his calendar launched in time for Christmas and he continues to attract a social media reach of over 25,000 people.