IT’S hard not to be intrigued by what’s behind the red door as you pass The Country Store in Broadford.
Once you cross the threshold of the quaint-looking, well-cared for shop front, great surprises lay in store inside the retail store, café and bakery.
The Clare Echo visited The Country Store to meet proprietor Karen O’Connor, who purchased the premises last August. In eight months, she’s transformed it into a hive of activity to serve the community on a broad basis. Catering to a variety of needs is the name of the game at The Country Store and on the list of services include Lotto, solid fuels, diesel, green diesel and kerosene, Payzone, parcel connect drop-off, sit-down meals in the café, freshly baked goods are made daily, homemade tarts and cakes to name a few, or even wine if it takes your fancy.
Karen explains the importance of growing her business as a community focul point, particularly following the closure of the other shop in the village last month.
“There’s 1,411 people in Broadford according to the last census. People say, ‘Broadford, Co Clare, sure there’s nothing happening there’. I’m living here 14 years and it’s a lovely little place. There’s a huge amount happening at present to bring about improvements to make Broadford a better place for parents to raise their family.”
Improvements already achieved include a new school, refurbished community hall, and state-of-the-art GAA faciliteies all located in the centre of the village. Karen continues, “There are also plans to build a community playground, develop walking trails that begin in the village and take in the beautiful scenery of the mountains and lakes on our doorstep. That’s along with the opening of a crèche/after school facility and the development of public spaces. The community is ambitious and enthusiastic and there is a great community spirit as a result.”
An active member of the fundraising committee for the camogie team, the mum of two adds, “It’s so vibrant here. You have people passing through the village going in the direction of Ennis, Galway, and Nenagh.”
The location serves as a great base for visitors such as those hiking the 12 O’Clock Hills, cycling groups, fishing enthusiasts, and golfers to Bodyke. Add to this the heaving GAA crowds, Karen is concious of the passing trade that needs serving in Broadford. The Limerick native adds that she takes great pleasure in returning local trade. “Even the older generation, they can get a hot dinner, whether it’s a stew or shepherd’s pie or beef lasagne, we make everything here.”
Karen was able to call on her experience in the catering and service industry to help develop her new business, having worked as an area sales manager with Bewley’s, and an employee at Nestor’s Bar in Limerick early in her career (where she met husband David, a Clonlara native).
“I never thought I’d have my own business, especially on my own doorstep, it’s great,” says Karen, who has grown her staff-base from six to 14 since taking the reins. “It’s constant but I just love it.”
Contact The Country Store on (061) 473 977.
Opening hours: Mon-Fri 7am-8pm (café 9am-6pm)
Saturday 8am-6pm (café 9am-4pm)
Sunday 9am-3pm (café 9am-2pm)