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‘A labour of love’ is how Budgens Codford St Mary owner Brendan Smith, 42, could describe the two years he has dedicated towards turning the site of an old World War One Nissan hut, built in 1915, into a new local community convenience store which also acts as the village post office and petrol forecourt.
The Smith family has owned the New Road Service Station in Wiltshire since Brendan´s grandfather used the money raised through the sale of his house to buy the site in 1972.
"The ambition has always been to improve the range and quality of retail services that we can provide to our local community," said Brendan. "That wish was shaped further when I saw what was being achieved at other Budgens stores. We wanted our customers to get a sense of quality when they shop at our new store and I believe we are offering this now."
It took Brendan two years to complete the entire transformation, through his own efforts and by using local building trade suppliers to do the structural build, flooring and also installing solar panels that allow them to generate some of their own power.
Local residents turned out in strength at the opening on 12 January, 2012. It was a Smith family affair, with Brendan being supported by father John and young son Ollie, who was entrusted with a pair of scissors to cut the ceremonial ribbon.
Although the villagers lamented the departure of the old building, there was widespread recognition that the village required more than the previous small garage shop. The first 100 customers received a free bottle of wine and children from the local Wylye Valley primary school came over and each received a goody bag of treats.
One local resident described the new shop as one of the best things to happen to the village in years, as it meant an end to her 14 mile round trip into the nearby town of Warminster every time she needed to shop.
The 2,225 square foot Codford St Marys Budgens store is part of the New Road Service Station. The site has a Murco Petroleum forecourt hosting three fuel pumps as well as the store which incorporates the village Post Office.
In addition to members of the Smith family, the store now provides work for nine local people in addition to the two women who run the post office and who continued to do so while it was relocated elsewhere.
Budgens´ emphasis on Fresh food has allowed Brendan to dedicate 25 per cent of the available sales space to produce, meat, dairy and bakery products. The store also has a strong off licence section of chilled beers and wines.
Brendan said that his Budgens Codford store would be selling ranges of local produce, from Planks potatoes, Paxcroft Farm eggs, a meat range from Jon Thorner´s, Rose Farm preserves and a range of beers from the Box Stream Brewery in Holt, Wiltshire. Household coal is also being sourced from Squires Coal Services of Warminster.
Hot and cold drinks, a Cuisine de France range of hot food and an ATM providing free cash withdrawals are also incorporated into the store´s layout.
If all that were not enough, owner Brendan Smith also runs his own car servicing and MOT business from the site and as well as his Real Coach Hire fleet of 11 coaches.