Small Business Growth Stories: The Heath Stores

08/09/2017

News

Company: The Heath Stores

Founder: Kate and Andy Mills

Founded: 2011

Location: Horsmonden, Tonbridge in Kent

Who are The Heath Stores? Kate and Andy Mills have run The Heath Stores since 2011, when this little village store – that had been in business for over 50 years! - was set to close down. They’ve since revolutionised the way the business is run by taking a clear focus on healthy eating and positive lifestyle choices, and building the business into a charming community hub with a deli, coffee shop, and public garden outside.

The Heath Stores sells fresh fruit, vegetables, and meat as well as the typical amenities you would find in your local food store – it is the only shop in its village after all! Owner Kate also displays healthy recipes in store and offers taste testing of the store’s cheese range.

Over the years, the business has won a range of awards; including UK Community Retailer of the Year 2015, the Asian Trader Healthy Living Ambassador Award 2016, and the Daily Telegraph’s British Village Shop of the Year 2016.

In regards to business and retail, what inspired the creation of The Heath Stores?

“We both worked in retail as teenagers and I did work voluntarily as a free trader for my church but that was it. But I am a big foodie and I love cooking. I used to live in Canterbury which has great whole food shops and farmers’ markets. Canterbury is really good for local and artisan foods – and I always shopped at those types of supermarkets as I found them very inspiring”

“The first thing I wanted to do was to get big on local and to improve the quality, freshness and availability of healthy foods. I wanted to make sure families could get a proper decent meal from here. My husband and I don’t get our food from anywhere else but this shop so I needed to be able to feed a family of four.”

Other than encouraging healthy eating and a positive lifestyle, what else is The Heath Stores doing for the local community?

“I like the fact that we can have a positive influence on our community. People say we have made a real difference to Horsmonden and that it has more of a community feel. We put on a lot of events which people enjoy and encourage people to come together.”

“To celebrate the local harvest we will have local cider on taste, and also local apples. We have 12 different apple varieties available for tasting and I also organise a scarecrow competition for the village to go alongside it. There is a real buzz in the village at this time of year.”

What does The Heath Stores value most?

“It is about customer service. This isn’t a job or a career – but is a way of life. It isn’t just about what is good for me and my family but to create a business that is good for the whole community. My philosophy is that we are caretakers of the future – part of the community serving the community - and hopefully able to live comfortably while doing it.”

Sources

A Village Store Which Ticks All The Boxes - Asian Trader

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