A team of volunteers in Norfolk are now helping to run one of the oldest shops in England. 25 people out of the 120 people who living in the village of Itteringham are helping to run the store. The shop is one of the old in England and has been trading since 1637. It has been run as a community shop since 1994 and now has an annual turnover of about £100,000.
The secret to the success of the shop is continuing to supply to the local needs of their customers within the village and surrounding areas. The Plunkett Foundation, which is a charity that helps rural communities through community-ownership, helps the Itteringham shop and is one of 301 community-owned shops in the UK.
There are 3 community owned pubs and one community arts centre which is a hub and café that operate in Norfolk. Community shops were disappearing due to competition with large stores and retail park offerings but now they are rising to the challenge with the help of community run projects.
Communities like Itteringham are now taking steps to get customers back into their shops Volunteer Mr Hemsley has said that ‘saying its because of the recession it’s going to be quieter we shouldn’t give up’.
The Village shop has been run by the Fairhead family since the early 1900’s but the when Brian Fairhead the owner of the village shop died, the village wanted to keep the shop and took it on as their own project in 1994.
The shop does have their regular customers from the village but people who are cycling, rambling and making their way to the Norfolk coast line do stumble across the shop who are also helping to keeping the shop where it is today. At the centre of village life the shops 370 year history is also being captured within a new book The Village shop, this is a self published book produced by the community of Itteringham.
So, after more than three centuries of successful trading it appears the shop’s longevity is down to two things, the generations that have run the shop and the best selling chocolate tiffin! Around 9kg (20llbs) a week at £1.95 a slab is sold, whatever the ingredients are inside it is working.
Is there a community shop near to you and do you use it on a regular basis?