The Village Plan for South Stoke was completed in the summer of 2010 and of the twenty five most popular requests of those aged 8 years and upwards, a village shop was the number one wish.
The starting point
A small committee began working on this request from September 2010. There were no available premises and no money. The task was challenging!
This picture shows the site on the edge of the recreation ground where a derelict pavilion had been dismantled and all services had been capped off. Work began to seek planning permission for the siting of 2 refurbished sea-containers here.
Alongside the work towards this application, the committee members set about visiting twelve community shops in and around Oxfordshire to learn and establish as many facts as possible about running, stocking, and managing a community shop. Once planning permission was granted it was possible to begin the lengthy task of raising sufficient funds to cover the costs of the project. These included the purchase of 2 sea containers fitted out to our specification (1 for the shop and 1 divided unit as a store/office and a toilet facility), the sourcing of all equipment such as chillers, freezers, coffee machine, shelving, heating/air conditioning, services of water, electricity, drainage, telephone and card machine facilities, hard landscaping around the units, the range of goods to sell with the projected costs and so on. In addition the committee had to formally lease this land from the Parish Council, happily for a pepper corn rent. Grants were obtained from The Big Society Oxfordshire and South Oxfordshire District Council, generous donations from the residents of the village and from local businesses. One loan was taken up to help towards the stocking of goods. A requirement of the grants was that we had a robust business plan and sufficient volunteer and paid manager hours to staff the shop. The committee make application to be registered as an Industrial and Provident Society for the Benefit of the Community and once accepted, share certificates were allocated on the basis of 1 share gives entitlement to 1 vote for all aged 17 or over.
The two units were craned onto site in August 2012, the one shown for the shop and behind this is sited the store and WC.
The committee have been indebted to the professional help that has been received from so many sources, notably ORCC, The Plunkett Foundation, all the community shops visited including those outside the immediate area, business development advice through the Co-op Enterprise Hub, funded educational visits, the Grantors and as well, advice from a variety of professionals within the community.
Two managers were appointed in February 2013 one month before the Grand Opening and Launch of this facility on March 9th. Our managers are employed for a total of 25 hours a week of the total shop opening of 57.5 hours weekly. The remaining hours are currently (November 2013) staffed by a committed and brilliant band of volunteers, without whom this shop would not exist, to give a tremendous facility for local people as well as a host of visitors from the surrounding area.