Frequently asked questions

Location, location, location

Why do we need to build a new shop ?

The temporary pop-up shop that Sean and Rosie opened and operated during COVID has now closed as the pub returns to full operation. It would not have been possible to continue to use this location as it is needed for other events. Even if we had wanted to operate there it was clear that it would not have been possible to enter into a lease agreement for the Community shop to run on Bell & Jorrocks premises. Sadly, there are no other premises available in the centre of the village that would be suitable.

The site adjacent to the Memorial Hall has much better access to parking, is closer to the school for drop off and pick up, and will include cafe facilities and be more visible for passing trade. It will also be convenient for those attending events and classes in the Hall.

So whilst the stables is an excellent solution for a temporary pop-up shop, the Management Committee believe we should be aiming for a more permanent solution on the Memorial Hall site, for a community owned enterprise, that will include a cafe with inside and outside seating, looking out over the fields behind the hall.

Why is it needed?

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.

What will it sell?

What will the shop sell?

The shop will aim to stock fresh produce, general groceries and household goods which villagers and visitors want and need. The point of a community shop is not only to support the shoppers within the community but also the producers too.

Items will be reasonably priced and sourced from local suppliers where possible. As a member of the Plunkett Foundation, we will have access to a network of suppliers at discounted rates.

The café will seat 16 people inside and have decking outside that can seat a further 8.

Will I be able to order newspapers from you?

If there is sufficient demand yes, you will be able to order your newspapers through the shop but spares will not be kept for general purchase.

Will the shop have library services?

No, although the café could have a book sharing shelf. The library van will (we hope) continue to come to the village.

Will the shop sell alcohol and cigarettes?

Yes, experience from other community shops shows that this is essential.

The law requires that measures are taken to prevent alcohol being sold to underage customers. Therefore, the Manager and volunteers will have to have training so that they are familiar with age verification, e.g. Proof of Age Standards Scheme (PASS) card.

Will there be a post office?

The Post office outreach will continue to come to the village 2 afternoons a week.

Who will use the shop and cafe?

The shop and café will be for everyone, for the whole community, as well as passing trade. No matter what age or demographic, we aim for the shop to have something for everyone, from those who just want a daily paper and the occasional pint of milk to those who may need to do their weekly grocery shop and everyone in between. 

Members have the added benefit of having a say in the running and development of the shop, by being able to vote on issues at public meetings.

There is no obligation to volunteer if you use the shop!

How will it operate?

How will the shop be run?

The shop will primarily be run by volunteers with a paid full time Manager.

How will the shop and cafe reduce wastage?

By minimising the number of journeys or distances that people drive for provisions, a local shop can reduce our environmental footprint. Things to consider will be:

  • reusing bags
  • selling fresh fruit and veg near its sell-by for soup & smoothies
  • good stock rotation

We would be interested in hearing from members of the community to help us achieve this, so please get in touch.

Will the shop make deliveries to local people who can’t get to the shop?

In special circumstances, yes, provided there are enough volunteers.

The Community shop is a hub for the community and therefore if there is a need for elderly residents / poorly residents to have an occasional delivery we would try & facilitate this.

Will I be able to use the café for small village meetings?

Luckily both the village hall and the church have meeting areas available for the community.

The café lends itself to a small meeting over coffee but obviously not a confidential conversation.

The shop would not re-open in the evening for meetings due to security constraints.

How will the shop be secured?

During the day, the shop will be staffed by at least two people and everyone will have had the training to make sure that they know what to do in an emergency or if something unexpected occurs.

When the shop is closed, it will be protected by adequate safety measures, including secure doors, CCTV and an intruder alarm system.

The shop will not hold any cash in the till overnight and will be insured against any unavoidable losses.

When will the shop and cafe open?

We have the site, the lease is all but complete, we have planning permission – now what we need is sufficient funds and getting more volunteers to sign up!

Our current forecast is that we will be ready to open in summer 2023.

What will the opening hours be?

The aim is to open Mondays to Fridays from 8am to 5pm

Saturdays from 9am to 1pm

Sundays from 10am to 12pm


How many volunteers are needed to staff the shop?

Ideally, we need around 50 volunteers to make the opening hours sustainable. Volunteer slots are 2 hours, but you don’t have volunteer every week, you can volunteer as much or as little as you like.

What tasks can I volunteer for?

Volunteers will be utilised on their strengths and training. If you are worried about using the till you could be involved in stacking shelves, working in the café, cleaning etc.

How many hours can I volunteer for?

Any time you can give will be most welcome.

Volunteering will be in 2 hour slots. You don’t have to volunteer every week, you can volunteer every other week or even every month.

If you are interested in volunteering, please chat with one of the Management Committee members.

Can I help in other ways?

Yes. You do not have to be a shareholder to help. Straightforward donations, however large or small, are always very gratefully received.

Volunteers to help in the shop will be very welcome or, if you have produce to sell or skills that could be put to good use, please let us know.

Will the shop offer work experience opportunities?

Yes, within the volunteering rota.

Many community shops offer work experience or work placements to disadvantaged people within the community who may be finding it difficult to get a job, especially young adults and people with physical or learning difficulties.

Will volunteers be expected to manage the shop on a day-to-day basis?

No. The Management Committee will appoint a permanent full-time manager who will be accountable to the committee and its members and manage the volunteers.

Raising the capital

I have already given to the Memorial Hall, is this the same?

No, the Memorial Hall is raising funds to redesign the layout of the Hall, it does not provide for a Community shop space.

There is not enough space in the village hall for a shop/café and therefore a separate space and building is needed.

Who can invest and how much should I invest?

Anyone over 16 can invest in the shop. We only expect people to invest in the shop if they can afford to do so and to an appropriate amount that fits within their budget. For some, this may be £20, for others £100, and a few may invest £1,000 or more.

What’s the difference between donating money and buying shares?

A donation is like a gift, it does not allow for a say in the direction of the shop and carries no right to be returned.

Buying shares is similar to a long-term loan, but you will be able to vote on shop issues as a member.

What will the funds from the issue of shares be used for?

To build and stock the shop, employ a Manager and protect the future of the shop.

Why become a shareholder in the Village Community Shop Community Benefit Society (CBS)?

A CBS is restricted in the amount of any profits that can be paid out to shareholders so this should not be thought of as a traditional financial investment.

Each shareholder (however large or small their shareholding) will get one vote in key decisions regarding the future direction of the shop and how the profits are invested for the good of the local community.

There is no obligation to invest after the initial share issue and shares can be redeemed at a later stage if, for example, you move out of the area – but only at the discretion of the Management Committee.

How will money be raised?

  • Share issue
  • Donations
  • Loans
  • Corporate Sponsorship
  • Grants
  • Fundraising events

How much money needs to be raised?

We have looked at other community shops, obtained some estimates for building and fit out costs and our plan is based on the following estimates:

Prelims & Groundworks – £22,000

Building & Finings – £92,000

Equipment – £13,000

Incidentals – £7,000

Initial working capital – £10,000

Contingency – £16,000

TOTAL – £160,000

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