Become a local hero: save a village shop


1st Jan 2015 Life

Become a local hero: save a village shop

It takes a lot of hard work but if you group together with a gang of passionate volunteers then it is possible to raise the funds required to save a local shop in your town or village.

It's an everyday story for country folk:

The local shop is threatened with closure but luckily a bunch of volunteers comes to the rescue, turning it into a community-owned venture. But it’s not just an Archers plot—there are almost 300 such shops in the UK.


Make a difference

To join them, you need to prove there’s demand

The Plunkett Foundation (plunkett.co.uk), which helps rural co-ops, suggests doing a survey, using the questions on its website. If the results are positive, hold a public meeting and elect a committee. Then choose a suitable legal structure (such as an Industrial and Provident Society), find premises and start fund-raising.

Grants are available

From charities, councils and the Lottery’s Village SOS, but accessing them can be a full-time job. “I went through every charity on the Charity Commission’s list,” says Marie Winckler, who helped raise £300,000 for The Burrow, an underground shop and cafe in Exbourne, Devon. Grants are slow to come through, so you may have to start out in temporary premises and take out a loan to cover any shortfall. Equipping the shop is another expense (scouring eBay for bargains or begging for donations can cut costs).

Volunteers are key 

It’s wise to include a core group of professionals willing to work for free. “Look for a treasurer (preferably an accountant), an ex-local-authority person who understands the regulations, and someone with experience of retailing,” says Winckler. “And because it takes time, you also need someone with the patience to keep it all going.”

Let's keep local alive!

Photo credit: Arena Photo UK / Shutterstock.com