A COMMUNITY store has praised the public for its support during the lockdown.

The role of the Bardon Mill Village Store and Tea Room was transformed over the past three months, moving from a local shop to a store stocking essential daily supplies for residents and visitors alike.

Bardon Mill is a small village, with a tiny centre to boot. However, the mutual support its residents and businesses give each other there was the key to a thriving community.

Michael Smith, owner of the village store and tea room, reintroduced a counter service last week after restricting its popular hot drinks and toasties to takeaway only.

“We have been well protected by the locals who have used us throughout the lockdown,” Michael said. “We have had some very good support from the village.”

Further measures, including the possibility of reintroducing some indoor tables, were being explored but, for now, the store maintained strict social distancing rules with only two customers allowed in at a time.

“We shut the shop down so people couldn’t come in and it was hard but we got through it,” Michael added.

“It’s been tough and it’s taken extra work from us all but we’re lucky to not have had to close. I suspect we will be OK but some others will not.”

Located next to the village green, the store boasts a prominent location popular with local residents and visitors.

But as the Government introduced further lockdown measures preventing the public from travelling to other destinations, the tourism industry fell into disarray.

Michael explained: “Tourism disappeared and there seemed to be no one around, but I was continuing to get regular visitors and new customers.

“Some people visited and carried out shopping for several people including their neighbours who might have needed some help like leaving produce on their door step.

“We are a village shop so are normally the place that people use for the odd item like milk or bread. But customer demand has changed massively and we have benefited from it. Hopefully people will use local stores more.”

Michael Smith, who has owned the shop for seven years, spoke with pride when reminiscing about the loud and vibrant atmosphere prominent in the cafe before lockdown.

“We’re a long way of that stage, but hopefully we will be able to return the shop to the way it was,” said Michael.