“We’re more than just a shop……” were the words of a volunteer at the recent 10th Anniversary lunch, celebrating ten years of the Community Shop.
It was originally conceived by a group of local residents who saw the need for a shop in the centre of Ropley, especially for those without a car, or with impaired mobility. The shop has gone from strength to strength over the years thanks to a lot of hard work by all our staff and volunteers and the unstinting support of our customers.
Many people will recall the enormous efforts to raise funding to “get the shop off the ground”, both literally and metaphorically , converting an old stable block to shop premises.
The official opening was performed by Southern Television’s Sally Taylor. Initially managed by Lisa Murphy, assisted by Sue Sansom, later succeeded by Cindy Dance and now the inimitable Vonnie Archer, still assisted by Sue Sansom, Doreen Gostage, Becky Shotton and of course the essential help of many volunteers.
Originally set up in 2006 as the Ropley Village Shop and Post Office Association, in 2009 it was converted to the new, more appropriate format of a Community Interest Company.
There has been a steep learning curve over the years, with the difficult balancing act of maintaining profit margins to cover the overheads, while at the same time keeping prices affordable for a limited customer base. Providing the village with the services of a Post Office is key and we hope to be able to keep the Post Office going – while under pressure from the Post Office Association who are seeking to close Post Offices where they can.
Over the years things have changed – we have more fridges and freezers, new shelving and racking, more lights, new blinds even a proper floor in the Store Room. Heating continues to be an expensive luxury so our stalwart volunteers still come in in mid Winter armed with gloves, scarves and fur lined boots!
The grants we have received from the Parish, District and County Councils, together with the generous donations from well wishers such as the Mason family, have really helped us to provide the services of a truly successful business.
So in our tenth year we are joining the “internet age” by setting up our own website and Facebook page. We hope that our loyal customers find this useful and that we attract some new customers as well.
There is always a warm welcome for you at your local community shop.
From left – Becky Shotton, Vonnie Archer, Rasik Lakhani (Post Master), Sue Sansom and Doreen Gostage