What is a community shop?
Quite simply, a community shop is a shop that is owned and run by the community, for the benefit of the community. There are 350 community shops across the UK, with more opening at the rate of 15 each year.
The experience of other community shops indicates that they typically play an important role as a focal point for social activity – a place where people can meet others as well as shop. This helps to reduce social isolation in the community, especially for vulnerable residents. Many community shops provide seating areas and sell tea and coffee with this in mind.
Is there enough demand to justify setting up a community shop in Crowle?
Yes, the survey carried out in September 2016 indicated that there is strong interest in having a shop:
- 61% of respondents stated that having a shop is important or very important
- 97% said they would use the shop – 67% at least weekly, and 44% more frequently
- 70 people, over a quarter of respondents (including some with hands-on retail experience) volunteered to help with the shop project in some way, of whom 40 offered to serve in the shop.
These statistics compare favourably with research undertaken in other communities who have gone on to set up and run a shop successfully.
More importantly, these sentiments have been endorsed via the strong support shown subsequently by the community, both financially and in terms of volunteers stepping forward.
What will the benefits be – how will a community shop serve our local community?
The new venture will deliver many valuable benefits for our community:
- There will be volunteering opportunities for all ages and backgrounds
- There will be training and development and CV-enhancement opportunities for young people, ‘work returners’ and the disadvantaged
- It will be a new local business, with increased spend within the community and potentially also job creation
- It will contribute to an enhanced rural economy by supporting providers of local products and produce
- It will increase social integration, leading to a reduction in isolation and social exclusion, through the ‘community meeting place’ focus
- It will create a positive environmental impact through fewer/shorter car journeys, i.e. reduced ‘food miles’.
Where will the shop be located?
The Shop is being built at the Parish Hall site, on the grass verge at the southern (ie Broughton Hackett) end of the car park.
How much funding is needed – and how is this being raised?
The total set-up cost for the Shop is £105,000. This includes site preparation, building, fitting-out, equipment and working capital.
We are aiming to secure this in the following ways:
- grants and related funding: target £73,000
- selling shares in The Shop (at £10 each) to members of the community: £30,000
- ‘traditional’ fundraising activities in the community: £2,000
More details below.
Grants and related funding: The Shop project has already secured grants from the following parties who have shown confidence in the venture:
- Crowle Parish Council (including support for securing New Homes Bonus)
- County Councillor Rob Adams’ discretionary fund
- Crowle Charities
- Wychavon District Council
- Severn Waste Environmental Fund
- The Prince’s Countryside Fund
Other grant applications are pending.
Community share sale: We raised over £25,000 via a community share offer in 2017, and are seeking a further £5,000 in May 2018 to help complete the project.
Community shares are a unique form of investment used by community groups to involve people in community projects. More details about the 2018 Offer are contained in this Offer document.
If you would prefer simply to make a donation to support the project, rather than become a Member and shareholder, this option is available. Donations of any amount are welcomed – please complete this form, or simply donate online here.
How will The Shop be run?
The Shop has been set up as a stand-alone legal entity, called a Community Benefit Society. This conducts business entirely for the benefit of the community; it is a democratic structure that encourages a large membership and gives members a direct say in the management of the enterprise, through an elected Management Committee of local people. The Society’s formal Rules can be found here.
The Shop will employ a part-time professional manager, who will be responsible for managing stock, overseeing relationships with suppliers, pricing, and co-ordinating the group of volunteers who will play an essential role serving in the Shop.
What products and services will the shop provide?
Our research showed that respondents would like The Shop to provide good quality products and produce sourced from local farmers/suppliers, and a comprehensive range of convenience/top-up items.
Amongst the most popular services was a tea/coffee shop with a seating area, which would be an important part of the ‘social hub’ concept (note that this would not compete with or replace the current Community Tea Shop, held every other Tuesday afternoon at Crowle Parish Hall). Other services requested include cashback, a local notice board, and tickets for local events.
The Shop will avoid competing directly with the Post Office by providing cashback only as part of a purchase, and it will not sell stamps or lottery tickets or handle parcels.
Will the Shop provide good value?
It’s important to be realistic and not expect the shop to replace the main weekly shop at supermarkets! However, we are committed to competitive pricing; and experience of other community shops shows that this is achievable – for example, Feckenham Community Shop undertook a ‘basket price check’ that showed that they were actually cheaper than the supermarkets after car fuel was taken into account.
What will be the Shop’s opening hours?
The opening hours will be confirmed when we can judge what our volunteer group is able to cover.
What will be expected of volunteers who serve in The Shop? What training and guidance will be provided?
We have started by bringing our volunteers together socially as an informal group, to ensure that everyone is aware of what is expected, and the group can get to know each other and share ideas.
We are arranging training and support for volunteers in key areas as necessary – covering areas such as customer service, using equipment, food hygiene etc. We are also developing a volunteers’ handbook which will set out clear guidelines of what will be expected of them. This will include our policy on under-18s working in The Shop. There will be at least two trained adults in The Shop at all times.
After The Shop opens we plan to continue to hold regular meetings with our volunteers to share thoughts, discuss new stock opportunities, discuss what seems to be working/not working. And there will also be ongoing social get-togethers, just for fun!
When will The Shop be open?
We expect to open The Shop in summer 2018.
Where can I find a detailed business plan for The Shop?
Will The Shop have any impact on future development in Crowle?
Available here is a brief Q&A containing reassurances on this point from the Planning Policy Team at Wychavon District Council.
How do we know our Shop will succeed?
While there are no guarantees, the strong support identified by our research and by the subsequent local fundraising and level of volunteering in the community is very encouraging for the success of The Shop.
More generally, it is also reassuring to note that community shop ventures have a five-year survival rate of 99%. This compares with only 41% for new businesses generally.
What other community shop ‘success stories’ are there?
What would happen if The Shop venture failed?
In the event that the business ceased trading, any surplus (after paying creditors and repaying share capital to investors) would be used for the benefit of the community in another way.
Keeping up to date
We keep you briefed on progress with The Shop project via local publications, Facebook and periodic email newsletters.
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The Shop at Crowle is the trading name for Crowle Community Shop Limited.