Owners of Leyburn’s only store Tim and Meg Ault.
Owners of Leyburn’s only store Tim and Meg Ault.

Country store set for race crowds

IF Meg Ault had had a moment to herself this week it’s a fair guess she would have been hankering for her previous life as a school teacher.

Or more specifically, the simple fact her former career meant free weekends.

Instead Mrs Ault and her husband Tim, as the newest owners of Leyburn’s only general store, were juggling the manic lead-up to today’s sprint racing start.

While the amicable couple admitted to being a little daunted, their preparation has been thorough.

They’ve increased staff numbers by 75 percent, ordered in a truckload of food, streamlined their takeaway menu and geared themselves for two days of limited sleep.

“Honestly we are a little daunted,” Mrs Ault admitted.

“We only took over five months ago, but we’ve consulted a lot of people and we hope we’ve got this weekend covered.”

Her husband, who worked in the disability and mental services sector, was more optimistic.

“We’ve never been to Leyburn Sprints, even as spectators, so I am looking forward to it,” Mr Ault said.

The couple, along with their two daughters, opted for the tree change earlier this year, keen to explore business opportunities in a rural area.

It is not their first foray into the food industry or the first time they have lived in a small regional community.

“We love the lifestyle and the Leyburn people have been very friendly and helpful,” Mr Ault said.

“I think sometimes people underestimate the social as well as business opportunities of small townships.”

The Aults have embraced the action at this year’s sprint meeting, sponsoring one of the only local race cars and extending their shop hours to cater for the huge crowds the weekend brings.

“Locals reckon crowd numbers vary depending on the weather,” Mr Ault said.

“So I suspect I have spent more time checking the meteorology reports this week than the local farmers.”

But they said their wholesale suppliers have been incredibly supportive of their efforts to cater for the sprints.

“We don’t have a lot of storage space, so one of our suppliers has actually arranged to leave a truck here,” Mrs Ault said.

“It’s really encouraging to be supported by people who actually understand the limitations of a little country store.

“The town has also been great. We usually just have one staff member, but to cater this weekend we’ve had to find an extra eight people.”

And as for the hours, the couple are gearing up, quite literally, for extended hours to match increased local demand.

“We’ll start at 6am and we’re prepared to stay open until midnight and we’ve got a barbecue going beside the shop,” Mr Ault said.

“But we’re still hoping to get down and see local driver Ty Facer racing in the car we’ve sponsored.”

As for his wife she admitted the tree change had brought positive social outcomes.

“It is a little early to say whether it has been an astute move business-wise,” Mrs Ault said. “However there have definitely been times I have missed teaching; I think it has something to do with Friday afternoon no longer meaning work has finished for the week.”

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