Inspiring Indies: The Jug & Bottle

14 February, 2014

This village off-licence and deli in a Victorian former schoolhouse has become a destination shop, thanks to its real ale and cider range, including a rolling choice on draught. Bottled beers are sourced from local microbreweries and craft brewers around the country and further afield, while the bottled cider range focuses on premium, niche and boutique products.

The deli environment, with a selection of cards and gifts alongside drinks and food, draws new visitors to both the shop and its range, while an annual beer festival to raise cash for local good causes has become a fixture of Bubwith’s social calendar.

Louise Smith, The Jug & Bottle

Sum up your shop in one sentence: Quality with a difference.

What sets you apart from other drinks retailers? Our customer service is exceptional. Less than 1% of our stock is found on the high street and in the supermarkets.

Who is your fiercest competitor? I’ve not worried for 11 years who my competitors are. We are who we are – we’ve survived 11 years and through a recession and things are picking up.

How do you keep customers coming back? Exceptional customer service. People make lovely comments about our style of shop and the goods inside, but if there is one comment that people make – and it’s the first comment they make – it is how lovely my staff are. They are smiling, polite and very helpful. It’s what I look for in staff over capability.

What area of the business is performing best at the moment? The deli counter – cake especially.

What’s your biggest challenge as a retailer? Cash flow.

What would be your top retailing tip? Don’t over-stock and keep changing stock to keep regulars interested.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given? Don’t pander to every request from customers or else you’ll end up stocking all sorts of stuff that doesn’t sell. Stick with your gut instinct for stock. Just because something is popular elsewhere doesn’t mean it’ll sell in your shop.

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English wine: a happy harvest for Christmas

All across England and Wales, vineyards are being harvested. Down winding country lanes come armies of welly-wearing conscripts wielding secateurs and buckets, ready to reap the rewards of our vines. Happily they come, their cheeks ruddy with pride. Half an hour later they’re crawling over muddy clods with lacerated hands, drenched in claggy juice and cold sweat, as if ploughing through an endurance race.

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Is blended Scotch overshadowed by single malt in retailers?

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