After twenty years working in the caring professions, it’s no surprise that Greg Golder and Dave Weaver have all the right skills to make a success of their new epicurean venture. This year they left behind the hustle and bustle of life in Surrey to take over The Tantivy, a traditional shop, café and deli in the historic Exmoor town and tourist hotspot of Dulverton.

Tantivy shopfront

On our last trip down there to drop off their latest order of Lyme Bay Winery products, we stopped for a chat to find out what brought them down to our beloved South West.

So what’s your story, and how did you come to buy The Tantivy?

“We took over The Tantivy – which, by the way, is an exclamation a bit like ‘Tally ho!’ used as a hunting cry – at the end of January,” says Dave, “and it’s been an ambition of ours to do something like this for a very long time. We’ve worked in and around the NHS for 20 years but we finally decided to take the plunge and do something different. This fantastic shop came up for sale which offers everything we could possibly imagine so we decide to go for it – it’s all about a new adventure.”

With all this talk about the decline of the High Street in the UK, it’s a bold move to take on a bricks-and-mortar business. What do you make of that, and how do you see independent outlets fighting back?

“We need to offer something that the online retailers can’t – and we think that’s people, experience, and knowing your products. The Amazons of the world can’t offer the personal touch, they can’t offer tasting sessions. We aim to give our customers an experience rather than just an opportunity to buy something.”

Tantivy Dulverton

Why did you decide to keep stocking Lyme Bay Winery products?

“We have come to The Tantivy with open eyes, and while we don’t want to change the world, we do have lots of ideas. Our focus remains on championing local products, which is why the Lyme Bay Winery range really appeals to us. Plus it’s really popular with our customers.”

What do your customers think of Lyme Bay products?

“The liqueurs go really well, and we have remerchandised how we promote these as well as Lyme Bay wines. I think fruit wines will start to move a lot quicker over the summer too – they are well presented and such a lovely gift idea.”

Tantivy Lyme Bay Winery Fruit Wines fridge

What is your favourite product from the Lyme Bay Winery range?

“I really like the Sloe Gin, although I did try your Lugger Rum for the first time the other day and thought it was fabulous. We will definitely be stocking that later in the year because, to be honest, if there is a taste of Christmas, that’s what I think it is. We really want to promote it, not just to drink but we think it’d be a perfect addition when you are making your Christmas puddings.”

If you were in charge of Lyme Bay Winery for a day, what would you do? What products would you make?

“I’d set up a good old tasting session. My priority for any business is its people, so if I was at Lyme Bay for the day I’d want to meet the staff and find out what inspires them and why they are proud of their product. After that, because I’m a Northerner through and through and was brought up on Vimto, I’d love to create something that is fruit based that’s the closest thing I can get to an alcoholic cheeky Vimto.”

What other local businesses do you want to give a shout out to?

The Bridge Inn is a brilliant pub in a fantastic location, and we’ve got the Tongdam Thai Restaurant as well which is absolutely outstanding. I can’t believe how blessed this town is with these amazing outlets, plus our home is also in the most amazing setting so I think our back garden is the best place for a picnic.”

Tantivy Bridge Dulverton

Looking ahead, what new things can we expect from The Tantivy in the coming months?

The Tantivy is an institution in this town. It’s been here for the last 80 years and is well-loved in Dulverton and across Exmoor, so we are really mindful that we don’t want to make change for change’s sake. However, while we are not trying to be a revolutionary place we are trying to evolve The Tantivy, and we are working on how we can improve our offer in terms of making things ‘precious’. In the café we’ve started to make homemade scones, which are going down fantastically, and in the shop we are looking for opportunities to promote environmentally friendly products as well. At the heart of this we are listening to our customers and trying to bring in new things that can excite them, not just appeal to tourists. This is their shop in their own town that they see every day so it’s about keeping them excited about coming into The Tantivy.”