Andrew from Chestnut House
"You want the village to have a reputation for great things and for people to be able to come here and have choice. People come in and they look at the selection of gins and they say ‘Wow’. That is just not what people expect to see when they come somewhere like Pooley Bridge. Who wants to go into a shop that’s the same as any other shop?”
Andrew owns Chestnut House in Pooley Bridge, which sells a vast range of Cumbria-made food and drink, including a range of around 400 gins.
“I was born in the North East, but I moved to the Lake District when I was about four or five. My dad has the shop at Park Foot Holiday Park, near Howtown, by Ullswater, so I grew up around here. My dad and my granddad were both in retail - my granddad used to own a tobacconist in the North East - so it’s in the blood!
“We opened Chestnut House in May 2016. I already had a shop at Lowther Holiday Park, near Penrith, and then the lease came up on this place and I took it on.
“When people are on holiday they are looking for something different. So we started with all the local gins and vodka and things like the mint cake liqueur and then it just expanded from there. We noticed there was more and more interest in the gin and the more we stocked, the more people wanted. Initially it was a bit of a novelty, but the demand just grew.
“We have big focus on all the great Cumbrian-made food and drink you can get, as well as our collection of about 400 gins. We host our own gin tasting sessions with local bars and restaurants, because we’ve built up such a knowledge of it. And people will drive all the way from places like Newcastle or Manchester specifically to see us.
“I could stand here and lie and say it was the plan all along to mastermind the whole thing, but it wasn’t. But in retail you’ve got to be able to chop and change and move with the trends and fashions.
“In our location it’s not hard to get people to visit your shop. You’re in a very attractive place just 10 minutes from the M6. People get to know about us through social media and almost every day you’ll get someone coming to see us who’s driven two or three hours just to get here. For lots of people it’s a regular stop off when they’re travelling up and down the country.
“It’s just a beautiful place to live and work. We liaise with pretty much everyone in the village and we all work together. We would rather have every business in this village thriving. You want the village to have a reputation for great things and for people to be able to come here and have a choice. People come in and they look at the selection of gins and they say ‘Wow’. That is just not what people expect to see when they come somewhere like Pooley Bridge.
“Who wants to go into a shop that’s the same as any other shop?”