Our nearest minimart (corner store) is the Episervice on rue des Halles in Preuilly. The previous owners have retired and moved to Limoges. It was touch and go as to whether they would be able to sell the business, but luckily for Preuilly, a young man called Karim Arabi has arrived to take over the shop.
Karim is hard working, ever ready with a smile and willing to help shoppers with deliveries and other little services. He left school at 16 and has worked ever since. I suspect having a small business of his own is a real step up for him, and he's clearly up for the challenge.
Karim serving customers.
The shop is open every day (Monday to Saturday 8 am - 12:30 pm and 3 pm - 8 pm, and Sunday 8 am - 1 pm). Fresh fruit and vegetables are delivered three times a week. There is the usual selection of store cupboard groceries and household products, but he also focuses on local products with few food miles eg milk from le Grand Pressigny, cheese from Bossay sur Claise and Le Petit Pressigny, and honey from Berry. Marrocan specialities will also get a higher than usual profile, given Karim's family background (he was delighted to point out that the harissa paste I bought from him recently was 'the best').
He and his wife Valérie have four children. One was born since their arrival in Preuilly at the end of April, so is very new. The others are school age and a welcome addition to the Pruillacien scolastic establishments. I know that our mayor really encouraged him to move to Preuilly, both for the continuation of the business and the additional children for the schools. Our mayor is particularly concerned to maintain services such as independent shops and home deliveries in Preuilly because of the number of elderly and infirm who live in town and don't drive. Karim is truly a welcome addition to the town from that point of view.
Karim standing in the fresh and local produce section of the shop.
At the moment the front door of the shop is boarded up after having been smashed. A local man went on a spree recently, verbally abusing several people in shops and the street. When he started harassing the wheelchair bound old woman who lives opposite the Episervice, Karim intervened to protect her. As a result the man, who has psychiatric and alcohol issues, smashed the door of the shop before the police arrived to haul him off.
Karim has impressed everyone who has come in contact with him. He's friendly, straightforward and wants to succeed. A few locals have expressed concern to me that as Maghrebis the family might not get a warm welcome from everyone in a small conservative rural location. But all I've seen is great willingness to support him, so I hope he and his family are here to stay.