Supermarket pressure sees Peterborough newsagent convert to tea room

When even your friends won't buy from you then you know your business has to change.

Friday, 13th January 2017, 6:00 am
Marie Tweedie and David Mitchell who are to change Werrington village news shop to a tea room. EMN-171101-000354009

That was the situation facing Werrington Village News owners Marie Tweedie and David Mitchell when they stocked up on alcohol to celebrate buying the shop, only to discover that their friends would rather spend their money at a major supermarket.

But, rather than sulking and downing their sorrows on the large amount of remaining booze, the couple have decided to give up on selling groceries and convert the newsagents into a retro tearoom.

The decision, which was prompted by slow grocery sales, has caused a huge stir on Facebook with many villagers welcoming the offer of a place to have a cuppa and pick up a newspaper.

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David Mitchell with a copy of the PT

Marie (52) said: “We got in lots of alcohol when we first moved here in October 2015. We have lots of friends who are all drinkers but they did not come here. They went to Morrisons or Tesco!”

She added: “We are sitting here thinking, ‘this is pretty rubbish’. People go to supermarkets for groceries.

“You can be here 10 minutes and no one will come in. And when they do they say they are going to go and do a shop elsewhere. They are very open about it. Over the years the supermarkets have taken half the trade away. It’s a natural progression and even I enjoy going to a supermarket and getting everything in one place. But, if someone is local they should support their local shop because they will miss it if it’s gone.”

Marie and David (51) are planning to unveil their new tearoom at the start of March.

David Mitchell with a copy of the PT

The engaged couple, who live in the same building as the newsagents in Church Street, hope to follow on from their success last summer when they put up tables outside and people stopped to have a drink.

The new tearoom will play music Marie likes from the 1940s to the 1960s. In fact, she likes that era so much that she is already selling clothes from the 40s and 50s at the store, and that is set to continue once the revamp is complete – it will also sell tobacco and newspapers.

Marie said: “There will be music playing and we will have four to five tables. We’re going to get cake and sandwich displays and put new flooring in.

“It’s a lovely place Werrington village and we will make it a lovely atmosphere. Everything we have will be homemade. There will be cakes and sandwiches and afternoon tea.

“People will order it and we will bring it over.”

The announcement on Facebook telling customers about the change of plans was shared by over 200 people and received nearly 100 comments, almost all of which were hugely positive. Marie added: “We’re very optimistic. From the responses we know a lot of people can’t wait to come in and see what we’ve got.”