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Julian Smith Pantiles News

Julian Smith, owner of The Pantiles News, tells us how he is giving the business an extra boost with the addition of an off-licence

TELL US THE BACKGROUND OF THE PANTILES NEWS
I bought the lease on the shop on November 1, 2014. I run it in combination with another shop in Lamberhurst, which is a big general store, whereas this is more of a summertime place for tourists. It was derelict when we took over, so we added bits to it and are trying to grow the trade.

HOW HAS IT DEVELOPED SINCE?
We’ve just managed to get an off-licence in. I felt the place just needed a little bit of an extra boost, especially with the jazz nights coming up in the summer. I want to be selling local produce Chapel Down wines, beers from Scotney Castle and Old Dairy Brewery, Biddenden cider, Thunder Toffee vodka and things like that.

WHY SET UP IN THE PANTILES?
It wasn’t specifically just because of The Pantiles; it was a good price and has a massive paper round delivery to around 300 houses, which keeps the shop going in the wintertime. I’ve lived around here for 30 years and always come down to the jazz nights in the summer. It’s quite a fashionable, cool place to be and I know most of the traders down here. I thought if I could combine it with Lamberhurst and use the knowledge I’ve got from there, it should work.

IS THERE A COMMUNAL FEEL AMONG THE TRADERS?
Most people look after each other down here and are good friends – we lend each other stuff and all struggle during winter, but we’re all getting ready for Mother’s Day and when the clocks change again.

WHAT ARE YOUR HOPES FOR THE FUTURE?
There are plans for a cinema coming down here, which I think will be brilliant for evenings. The Pantiles is really good when the weather’s great, but with the addition of a cinema there will be a lot more footfall.

We could then stay open a bit longer, and with the pubs and restaurants there could be a bit more of a buzzy atmosphere down here.

The Pantiles News is at
66 The Pantiles,
Tunbridge Wells,
Kent TN2 5TN
Visit: www.thepantilesnews.co.uk