Why do communities need a shop?

Village shops are often the heart of the local community providing a means of obtaining provisions and an important opportunity for social contact. 

Many residents, particularly the elderly and those without their own transport, rely on local shops for daily essentials. 

Community shops play an important role in reducing social isolation by providing a place for people to meet and chat. The village shop can provide a way for the community to keep an eye out for vulnerable residents. 

The generally held view amongst estate agents is that around a 5% premium is generated by having a village shop alongside other community amenities, such as a hall and a school.

By minimising the number of journeys or distances that people drive for provisions, a local shop can reduce our environmental footprint.

Why do you think the community shop and café will be successful in Frittenden?

The experience of other community shops with a cafe in the area has shown that once up and running it is a successful model.

Over the period it was in operation Stable Stores demonstrated that with the right mix of fresh produce, local suppliers and a customer led approach that there is a viable business for a shop in the village, even without a cafe.

We also believe that the location, adjacent to the Memorial Hall, close to the school and with a beautiful view over the fields will make the cafe more than just a social hub for the village. It has the potential to attract other users such as walkers, cyclists and passing traffic.

Smarden, which opened in early 2020, had a very encouraging first full year of trading and exceeded their first year forecasts achieving a turnover of £197k.

Benenden, which admittedly is a much larger Community Shop reported a turnover in 2020 of £456k.

Detling, which is a slightly smaller shop than being proposed, has a footfall of 75 – 80 a day with an average spend of £7. Their predicted turnover is £80k pa.

Chart Sutton, which is comparable to Frittenden, has a turnover of £87K pa.

Community shops are a resilient form of business with an average survival rate of 95%

Because the community has a shared ownership of the shop, residents are more likely to shop there.

Community shops tend to have lower overheads as they are often staffed by volunteers.

What is a community shop?

Community shops are essentially village shops that are democratically owned by members of the community. They trade as businesses, but they trade primarily for community benefit. They have a voluntary membership, whereby members of the village can buy shares and become part owners of the business. All members have an equal say in how the business is run regardless of their level of investment.

There are various models for managing a community shop. The majority of community shops in the UK are managed and run directly by the community, mostly by a combination of paid staff and volunteers, however, some have all volunteers and some all paid staff.

Community shops are a resilient form of business – at the end of 2020 392 community shops were trading in the UK and of those that have opened there is a long term survival rate of 92.5%. (From Plunkett publication, ‘Community Shops – A better form of business 2021‘.)

Community shops succeed for a number of reasons, but most importantly they engage the community and stimulate social activity and community cohesion.

Because the community has a shared ownership of the shop they are more likely to shop there, which gives a stronger sales base than privately owned village shops. Also, they tend to have lower overheads as they are often staffed by volunteers.