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A Kintyre man has combined his years of experience in the retail and catering industries to bring back Muasdale’s village shop.
Will Anderson, who lives at South Muasdale Farm with his partner Stephen Jones, bought the building, which for decades was Muasdale Stores, from artist Senja Brendon who had converted it into a studio.
Will, who has retained the name Muasdale Stores, held the shop’s re-opening last Saturday. He told the Courier: ‘My partner and I were passing the store the very moment Senja was placing the for sale sign in the window. You could say it was literally a sign! I have always wanted to have my own shop and this one was on our doorstep.’
The shop stocks a varied selection of products, from everyday items including household goods, snacks, baby items, pet food and toiletries, to premium fine foods and local produce. There are also some gifts and cards, and, as of this week, newspapers.
‘I’m also listening to what people would like to see stocked in the shop and do my best to meet their needs,’ Will added.
Will feels that reopening Muasdale Stores was a ‘perfect opportunity’ for him, combining his years of experience of sales and retail at The Treehouse in Campbeltown, and his time catering at Dunaverty Golf Club as the club steward.
He said: ‘I have found a great company which supplies me with excellent fresh coffee beans. My bean-to-cup machine also makes the most delicious, extra creamy hot chocolate. The ladies and gents from Dunaverty Golf Club always enjoyed my soup, so I’ve been making a pot every day and it is selling well – I have to say it is pretty good.’
Will already stocks a limited number of eggs from his own hens at South Muasdale Farm, but he hopes to sell more farm produce in time.
‘We plan to sell beef fairly soon and home-grown vegetables and pork next year,’ he explained. ‘The farm is in the process of organic conversion so all produce is farmed organically and will be certified organic in 18 months. While we will be selling produce from South Muasdale, we also want to stock other fantastic local produce.’
Will said the feedback since he opened has been fantastic: ‘Everyone who has come into the store has been beaming. Members of the community have been delighted and extremely happy to have their wee shop back.
‘I have been overwhelmed by the generosity and kindness of our community in Kintyre since setting up my new business. I have received invaluable help and advice from family and friends and people that I have only recently met. It is incredibly touching to know that they care and I can’t thank them all enough.’
Senja, who worked hard with Will since February to make sure the sale went ahead, wished him all the best with his new venture.
The artist has had a caravan at Bellochantuy for years and after moving from London to Arran, she bought and extensively refurbished the building, opening it as Saltwater Studio last summer. She decided to sell up after struggling to commute from Arran over the winter.
She said: ‘I had subsequent offers after Will’s but the buyers had other ideas for the building. I thought the village could do with having a shop back again, somewhere people can meet up. It is something that I think is important to the village.
‘When I took it on as an artist’s studio, I asked around as I didn’t want to be the person who took away the local shop but it had been empty for six months. I am really happy now that it is going back to being a hub for the village – I really hope it works out for Will as he has some brilliant ideas.’
She added: ‘We made some lovely friends during our time in Muasdale, friendships that will last. I would like to say a big thank you to all the local people who made me feel so welcome.’
Senja plans to re-open Saltwater Studio on Arran – at the moment she will be working from a studio at Cladach, near Brodick. She still has her caravan at Bellochantuy and will be returning to Kintyre to paint and sketch. She added that she is looking forward to being a customer at Muasdale Stores, which will be open from 7am to 5pm from Monday to Friday, from 8am until 4pm on Saturday, and from 8am until 3pm on Sunday.