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Herts publicans come to aid of local residents with new shop

Publicans Bianca and James Rix have opened a shop at The Fox & Hounds in Hunsdon to help local residents and those living in surrounding villages.

The Fox Shop was opened with the help and support of Pub is The Hub, the not-for-profit organisation that helps pubs to diversify and provide essential local services.

When the Covid-19 pandemic hit last year the couple, who have run the pub for 15 years, opened an area outside the pub as a shop offering products such as pies, pastries and bread.

The Fox Shop proved so popular that it has now become a long-term fixture inside an area of the pub. A grant from the Pub is The Hub Community Services Fund meant that an area inside the pub was transformed into a shop with a freezer for ready meals and enhanced shelving.

The popularity has meant that the publicans extended the range on offer to include home made ready meals including curries and pies, seasonal produce, meat, desserts, cheeses and flowers.

Publican Bianca Rix said, “It started off with a few items to help out in the first lockdown but grew as the locals loved it. When we reopened they asked us to continue with the service and we decided to take out a designated area inside the pub.”

The village has a local shop for basics so the publicans were careful to offer different items such as fresh bread, home made ready meals, seasonal produce and local ice cream. The Fox Shop has also helped attract new customers who had not come into the pub before.

Rix continued, “As well as helping our locals we have been able to support small, local suppliers. The Fox Shop has also helped to fight social isolation as people were able to chat at a social distance when coming to the shop.”

The publicans also came to the aid of locals during lockdown who were vulnerable and shielding by donating free meals, which were distributed by local volunteers.

Regional advisor for Pub is The Hub, Jeremy English said, “Publicans Bianca and James have made their pub an important hub for the local area. They rallied to help the local community in the first lockdown with the shop and free ready meals for the vulnerable.

“The pub shop has become a crucial amenity for those living locally and has helped to keep the locals connected.”

The Fox Shop is open Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays from 10am to 2pm, and during takeaway times on Friday and Saturday nights from 5.30pm to 7.30pm.