Community experts have shared their tips and hints to create a true community store. Jenny Mason from the Feckenham village shop and Chris Buckham of Bretforton community shop discuss their strategies and methods, along with thoughts from the Plunkett Foundation.
- Shops are the heart and soul of their community – this loyalty is the key to the success of the store, which gains further strength by adding a sense of participation.
- Members keep it alive by shopping there and by volunteering.
- Ensure members are aware of what’s going on. Feckenham held an open day in the village hall where it started its recruitment of 40 volunteers, which steadily grew.
- Communication with members is also important. To ensure members are in the loop on the co-op’s activities can take part in decisions, the team uses the parish magazine, leaflet drops,social media and regular public meetings.
- Delegate responsibilities: at many community stores volunteers are not expected to do too much and work around three hours per week.
- People like to do things together. Feckenham unites the community through other activities such as organising an entertainments committee, an over-60s group and a cinema in the village hall.
- Engage the community in the products that you sell. Feckenham has 900 product lines, created in conjunction with community needs.
- By stocking local produce, you are also helping to support the local economy. Bretforton works with the local baker and butcher, instead of doing these things themselves.
- Finding an expert in your co-op’s sector can save time and money. The biggest challenge for Bretforton was making sure they had the right equipment and stocking levels right.