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Gin-tastic success for Kenninghall village shop named best off-licence

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Being small is no obstacle to winning big, as Karen and Mike Humphreys have just proved.

Mike and Karen Humphreys show off their award for best off-licence of the year. Picture by Mark Bullimore.
Mike and Karen Humphreys show off their award for best off-licence of the year. Picture by Mark Bullimore.

The couple, who own the Kenninghall Stores and Post Office, are celebrating after being named best off-licence of the year at the national Convenience Store awards.

Their shop, which they took over in 2011, was also a finalist in the best small store awards in the same competition, which was run in conjunction with The Grocer magazine.

“We are very, very proud,” said Mr Humphreys, who was quick to praise the shop’s staff, customers and the Kenninghall community since they returned to the village – they had lived there about 25 years earlier – to move into the shop.

“It was a very good decision to come here. The village has been fantastic and very supportive and we have loads of local suppliers.”

It is not just locals who shop there. As the shop’s reputation has become known beyond the village, especially for the range of alcohol in stock, customers will drive 20 to 30 miles to select from as many as 140 different gins, 20 vodkas and five rums, as well as malt whiskies, a good selection of wines and real ales.

Locally-distilled gins account for about 20 of the gin range and Mr Humphreys said: “Some of them, like Norfolk Gin, might be something like £40 a bottle, but people will pay that if the product inside is right – and it is a superb product.”

The extra space given over to alcohol – achieved by reducing the area occupied by the post office – was a recent decision to give customers a choice that they would not get elsewhere even in bigger shops.

It was a matter of “going the extra mile” to provide something different. “As word has spread, people come here for a bit of service, the choice and the price,” said Mr Humphreys.

Mr Humphreys has spent his career in wholesale and retail and it was a coincidence that, when he finally had a chance to work for himself, the Kenninghall shop was available. “We jumped at it,” he said. The couple have since also taken over the Dickleburgh village store and post office.

They Kenninghall shop reached the finals after a visit from the editor of the Convenience Store magazine who judged it against other finalists.

The awards were presented at London’s Royal Lancaster Hotel – and Mr Humphreys admitted that his celebrations had included a glass of gin.

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