A PAIR of businessmen have turned to their local community for help after bad weather stopped them being able to trade.
Wallington-based James Tilley, 36, and chef Danny Robinson set up smoked meat and cheese firm Gaddens Foods at the beginning of December.
Their plan was simple: to book stalls at markets around Hampshire while developing a website which could handle internet orders.
They were planning to showcase their food at the market in Winchester last weekend, but bad weather meant it could not go ahead.
But they had already booked the space, and cancelling the stall with no back-up plan in place meant they would have been dangerously at risk of losing everything.
James said: ‘I spoke to Nick Hunter who runs the Cob and Pen pub in Wallington and a few other local pubs with the idea of his staff selling my hampers.
‘He said it was a great idea but his staff would be too busy and we did not have time to train them all, but he said “why not set up shop in my pub, use my cellar to keep your stock cold and use my licence?”.’
During the two days before Christmas James set up a pop-up shop inside the pub, where he is a regular customer.
He is selling his produce in hampers made by local carpenter Matthew Chase, with custom-made stencils provided by Wallington metal worker Lee Williams.
James said he and Danny, who used to be head chef at the White Horse pub, also in Wallington, wanted their business to be as local as possible, but didn’t realise they would need quite so much help from the community in the early stages.
James added: ‘We wanted our company to be locally-focused so we could cut down on food miles, and so everyone knows exactly where their food is coming from when they buy it from us.
‘Nick has enabled my business to survive by letting me use his pub. I need to let enough people know I will be at the pub to enable us to sell all of my stock to at least cover costs until what I can see will be a difficult January.’