The Jempson Story Part One

A Trip Through Time

Jempsons of Peasmarsh opened their new Self Service Store in 1972 and were soon inundated with new customers. The growth of the original village store to what it has become today is a remarkable story of the enterprise and hard work put in by the family and staff. The following account of their progress is based on a  feature in the first issue of “In-store Magazine” published in 1996.

Jempsons of Peasmarsh was by that time already a regular part of many local peoples lives. Many people travelled to the store on the special Jempsons bus service, others dropped in most evenings after work. However people used the store, they were made to feel valued customers.

This has always been the policy of the store, ever since it began trading back in 1935.

George Jempson bought the original 200 sq. ft. property in the same year of his marriage. The bakery, as it was then, was the centre of Jempson family life and an integral part of the local community.

It wasn’t long before George Jempson started to branch out into other areas, such as general grocery. He also expanded his customer base by selling his produce from mobile vans. At one point seven vans were regularly servicing all the local villages.

In 1968 George Jempson decided it was time to hang up his apron and give the younger generation a chance. The business was handed over to his son Harold Jempson and son-in-law, Michael Bailey.

The exchange couldn’t have come at a more difficult time. While Jempsons was still operating as a traditional counter service store, the age of the supermarket had dawned and self service was coming into vogue.

Jempsons began to feel the strain of the new competition and the new partners realised that drastic measures would have to be taken in order to tempt customers back to the store.

It wasn’t just the retail trade that was changing, customers were too. Back in 1935 people would often be born, grow up and die in the same village, but with most households now owning a car and commuting becoming more common, Jempsons was dealing with a far more mobile population than in 1935.

In 1972 the partners obtained planning permission to demolish part of the old building and erect a 2,000 sq. ft. self service store.

With all their personal savings invested in the new venture, both partners realised this was a make or break situation. It soon became obvious that they had made the right move.

Business grew rapidly and continued to grow.

Over the years 1972-1996, the store was extended on five separate occasions to a size of 11,000 sq. ft.

Despite its size, Jempsons prided itself on offering a friendly and personal service, with more than 50 full time staff on hand to offer help and advice.

Brothers Andrew and Stephen Jempson took over the business from father Harold in the early 90’s  Stephen and Andrew Jempson, grandsons of the original Mr Jempson, were well aware of the stores past and of the considerable skill and effort which contributed to its success. They were, from the start, firm believers in looking to the future and changing with the times..

In their early years in command they undertook the development of a petrol forecourt and the Pond Cottage Tea Rooms, both of which proved popular additions to the Jempsons business at that time..

Regular customers of Jempsons noticed a large plot of cleared, vacant land adjacent the main store. This was to be the future for Jempsons. Stephen and Andrew were pressing ahead finalising planning permission for a brand new store which would surpass the standards of any single retail unit in the vicinity.

Jempsons were well before their time when they introduced their Self Service Shop in 1972, but thirty years on they lit up the new Millennium when they opened their brand new Superstore in 2002. It is, as many of those that shop there will readily tell you, the best shop, with the best service and most friendly atmosphere. Where else, in these days of multinational chain stores could you walk into such a magnificent premises and speak on a face to face basis with the owners?

The Jempson family are true local heroes, they have taken on the Tesco’s, Sainsburys and Morrisons of this world and beaten them at their own game on a district level. Their store is full of local produce as they support local farmers and producers. They are firm believers in short distances from producer to shop and their policy of doing away with plastic bags emphasises their own and their customers support of the environment.

Before Jempsons made its mark on Peasmarsh, the village was perhaps best know for a poet named William Pattison.

Mr Pattison was born in 1708, the son of a Peasmarsh farmer and became quite renowned and celebrated for his verse. Unfortunately, as was the way in the eighteenth century, Mr Pattison died while still in his early twenties and never achieved the notoriety necessary to really put Peasmarsh on the world map.

Back in the 1900s, Peasmarsh, was somewhere people drove through (or rode through) rather than actually visited, being on one of the main roads to London.

In those days two men held a huge amount of sway over Peasmarsh life. Thomas Pix and Charles Liddell were both magistrates and both owned large chunks of Peasmarsh land. Mr Liddell owned the Peasmarsh Place Estate to the south of the main road, while Thomas Pix owned the Woodside Estate to the north.

Peasmarsh has moved with the times, however, and magistrates have been replaced by landowners from the world of rock ‘n’ roll, with the McCartneys now the village’s most celebrated family. (1996)

One thing is certain, the McCartneys gained more notoriety for Peasmarsh than poor Mr Pattison.

Stephen and Andrew take over from Father Harold in 1994


“Rye’s Own” March 2013

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