For nearly 100 years, Chale Green Stores and Post Office has been at the heart of village life. Now the shop has been extended and upgraded, with the addition of a new delicatessen, cafe and courtyard garden.

The official opening is planned for Saturday November 1, when the Island High Sheriff, Alan Titchmarsh, will launch the new and improved store.

The owners, Vernon Tyerman and his wife, Jenny Kerry, have expanded the business to ensure that its future is secure. “To make it viable for the long term, we needed to make it bigger and more attractive,” explained Vernon. “The only way we could help guarantee the shop and post office into the future was to attract people from outside the village.”

When the couple moved to the Island eight years ago, they had no idea that they would become village shopkeepers. Vernon had retired from his work in the telecommunications industry, which had taken them all over the world.

Jenny was brought up on the Island and she and Vernon bought and renovated North Grounds Farmhouse in Chale. “Refurbishing the farm completely was a major undertaking,” Jenny recalled. “We enjoyed becoming part of village life and used the village shop daily.”
They joined the Chale Village Partnership, helping to campaign for the village to keep its amenities, such as the local school. “We are determined to show people that this is a lovely village with lots of good things going on,” said Vernon.

When the Ridges family, who had owned Chale Green Stores and Post Office since 1960, put the business up for sale, there were no buyers at first. “It looked like nobody was going to buy it and it would be sold for development. We didn’t want to see the shop die,” said Vernon. “In a moment of rashness, we decided to buy it. We took over on January 1, 2005.”

Jenny and Vernon are only the third family to own the stores in its 96-year history. It was built in 1912 as a cottage with shop attached, by John Brown. After his death, his widow Winnie continued to run the stores and post office until 1960.

It was taken over by Olive and Jack Ridges, whose children, Anne and Ian, joined them in the shop. Jack died in 1989 and Olive in 2002. Anne and Ian continued to run the business until they sold it to Vernon and Jenny.

When they first took over, their first step was to give the shop a much needed facelift, improving the layout, fittings and lighting, making it more modern and user-friendly.

However, the shop lacked storage facilities and Vernon and Jenny started planning a major extension, which became reality this year.

In the first phase, a large new shop and post office were built and the old shop was converted into a storeroom. The new shop opened on June 23.

In phase two, which is just reaching completion, the new cafe and deli have been built, leading to a courtyard garden, which will be an outdoor eating area in fine weather.

Vernon and Jenny are very environmentally minded and, with the help of architect Robert Biggs, have incorporated a number of “green” features into the project.

“We take the ‘green’ in Chale Green Stores seriously,” said Vernon. Heat and hot water for the new buildings is provided by a ground source heat recovery system and a rainwater harvesting system provides water to irrigate the garden and flush the toilets. Four light tubes feed natural light into the shop and the new buildings are double insulated to reduce heat loss.

Vernon and Jenny are very excited about the completion of the building project and are looking forward to the future. “What was an impractical and inefficient building is spacious, welcoming and very pleasant for our staff and customers,” said Vernon.

“We are confident that as word spreads about what Chale Green Stores has to offer, people from all over the Island will discover it is worth coming to the village to shop here.”

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