To start your own community shop, is a wonderful way to take back (at least) part of your town or village from the big shops and supermarkets. Community shops thrive across England, with many doing better than for-profit shops. They are quite different, in the way they operate.
Most community shops are housed in an old or purpose-build building (many are bought from the owner of a shop about to close down, which is loved by the community). People all buy a share in the shop. Most shops have a paid member of staff as a manager, and then the shop is run by a small army of volunteers. They often only have to work 1 or 2 hours a month, and this can be stocking shelves, ordering wholesale deliveries or of course, serving and delivering goods.
What’s good is that the profits are kept within the shop and community. So as you own the shop, you can order what you like! For instance, a vegan, a gluten-free eater, a person whose dog only likes a certain brand of dog biscuits, a granny who likes the wholesale jam from the next county and an old man who likes a certain brand of toffees – it’s all good.
How to Set up a Community Shop
Plunkett Foundation can help you to start (or save) a community shop, and also give discounts on items like insurance. What’s good to know is that most community shops are here to stay. They don’t go bust during a recession, because they are part of the community, rather than a high street chain store, motivated by profit. Many even have local Post Offices.
Two Thriving Community Shops
Did you know that just 15 community shops have closed down, out of 350 opened? Most small shops in the UK have a 5-year survival rate. Oxfordshire leads the way with 18 community shops in existence:
- A gold standard community shop is The Galleries Shop & Cafe. Located just outside Bath, it’s one of England’s flagship success stories. As well as food, it offers reusable bags to borrow and local herbs, all in a purpose-built eco-friendly building. Local walkers can also pop by to fill their water bottles.
- St Tudy Community Shop in Cornwall is a recent opening. When the village shop was due to close down, people got together and now volunteers run this shop that’s open 59 hours a week, every day except Christmas. Supporting local suppliers of fresh fruit and veg, they also sell local groceries, toiletries and newspapers, and also sell stamps, stationery, wine and gift cards.