Meet the new village shopkeeper – Tom Larkin

tomWe are delighted to announce that our friend and Tywardreath resident Tom Larkin will be taking on running the Village Shop.

To introduce him to you we asked him to reply to these questions so you can hear what he thinks about working with us, if you are coming to our next event on the 26th of June you will have the chance to talk to Tom and find out more about his plans for the shop and Community Buying Group.

 

What’s Tywardreath to you as a place to live?
I moved to Tywardreath 10 years ago with my girlfriend. Laura and I came down here the summer after finishing our university courses. We only planned to stay a few months, but we just fell in love with the village, the people, and the surrounding area. Since the day we arrived, leaving hasn’t really been an option for us. It’s a special place and we love it here.

How do you know Trudy and Josh?
I first came across Trudy and Josh in their capacity as business mentors and start-up loan providers they helped me set up a small food company back in 2013. However, since then they’ve become great friends to Laura and I. We spend a lot of time with them – whether that’s going out for walks or meals, having a beer at the New Inn, or when the sun shines, having a BBQ at Newhouse Farm.

We’ve had some lovely times with them over the past couple of years. It’s hard to pick out one in particular, but just recently we took a trip up to the fantastic Fish House on Fistral Beach. Not only was the food unbelievably good and the weather perfect, but it had the added significance of being a celebration of me taking on the role of our village shopkeeper. We’re all really excited about everything that’s happening, and discussing our plans for the coming months in such a great spot, and over some delicious Cornish seafood, was just a great way to spend an evening.

Tell us something funny about working with them?
That’s a tough one as there’s just too many things to choose from! A lot of laughing goes on around them, and some of Trudy’s anecdotes about her life are just hilarious. And not necessarily appropriate for discussing here! I think the thing that stands out the most though is that Trudy and Josh have their own language. You don’t have to spend much time with them before you realise that half of the words they use when talking to each other are completely made up. They’ve even compiled a dictionary of their words – it’s huge, and expanding all the time!

What have you seen them do at Newhouse Farm since you’ve known them?
They’ve done great things at Newhouse Farm since they’ve moved in. Not only have they improved the look and feel of the place, but they’ve really opened it up to the village. They’ve allowed local people to grow vegetables at the farm, they’ve run a ladies night once a month, which has been really popular, and they’ve allowed various groups to set up and use the place. For example, several guys from the village have turned one of the barns into a small brewery, and there’s a bee group that manages a number of hives on the farm. There’s always something going on.

Also, Laura and I are getting married in August, and Trudy and Josh have been kind enough to let us have our reception and evening party at Newhouse Farm! The place already looks great, but I think a lot of things are now being done with the wedding in mind – for example, all of the flowers for the wedding are being grown at the farm by Trudy, so there’s beds of wild flowers everywhere.
 
It’s just another great example of how they’ve opened up the farm to benefit people in the community, and we’re so excited about having our party there. It’s a perfect venue.
 

What do you see them doing with this social investment in Tywardreath?
Just saving the village shop and Elmswood from closure is a massive boost for the village, but I know they won’t be happy with just saving them and letting them continue as they are. Both businesses have bags of untapped potential, and just the concept itself of having local people invest and have a stake in the village’s success is something that could become a model that is replicated elsewhere.

Why did you get involved with the business, what is motivating you to make this happen?
I’ve always loved the idea of running a village shop, and with the way my circumstances have worked out recently, it just feels as though it’s meant to be. The most exciting thing for me is knowing how good that business can be. It’s already and established, profitable shop – but it can be even better.

How are you involved, what are you going to be doing for the business?
My main role is going to be managing the shop, but I will also be helping with the running of the community buying group, and the shop will be a key point of contact for people wanting to take advantage of this new project.

I intend to be running a thriving profitable village shop with a reputation and customer base from beyond Tywardreath. It’s also the local shop for places like Golant and Treesmill, and by opening longer and offering more services I hope we’ll become the default choice for people living in those places. Beyond that, who knows. But one thing is for sure, I am in this for the long haul. This is pretty much my ideal job and I plan on doing it for some time.

What’s the most useful experience you have gained in your life so far that will help this venture?
That’s a tough one. To be honest, I’d say it’s the variety of things that I’ve done that’s given me the skills and experience that I think I’ll need, rather than one particular thing. I’ve worked as a freelance writer & editor, I’ve started and run a small business, I’ve worked in shops, pubs, offices, and I’ve even done a bit of farming!

How will local residents benefit from having you in charge of the shop?
Well, I get on with pretty much anyone and love talking to and meeting new people, so hopefully the regulars will enjoy popping into the shop for a quick chat. But also, I’ve got lots of fresh ideas for the shop that hopefully will be of great benefit to people in the village. We’ll have a cash machine, you’ll be able to pay on card, we’re extending the opening hours, plus we’re planning to widen the range of items in stock – this will include plenty of great local produce.

What do you want to experience or learn from being involved in this venture?
This is the first time that I’ll actually be fully in charge and managing something full-time. I’ve worked for myself before and managed my own time, and I’ve run a business with a friend when we’ve made big decisions together, but I’ve never really had to manage people. That will be a new experience, but it’s something I feel I’m well-suited to do and I look forward to.


What scares you the most about running the shop?
It’s messing up the simple stuff. Honestly. Keith has run things like clockwork for so long and has offered residents a great, reliable service. The thought of getting someone’s newspaper wrong, or selling out of milk half way through the day scares the hell out of me!

 

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