- About the shop
- Staffing the shop
- Deliveries to and from the shop
- Sustainability and waste
- About the Share Offer
- Development and house prices
About the shop
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 – out of the 350 community shops that have ever opened in England, Scotland and Wales, only 15 have ceased to trade, which gives a survival rate of 95%. This compares extremely positively with estimations for UK small business nationally which have a five-year survival rate of 41%. (From Plunkett publication, ‘A better form of business 2017 Community Shops‘.)
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 and some shops pay no rent as the community may raise the funds to buy a property for the shop to use.
Who uses the shop?
The shop is for everyone and is open to and 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.
Does the shop sell local produce?
Yes. The point of a community shop is not only to support the shoppers within the community but also the producers too. In Farmborough, we are fortunate enough to be surrounded by good quality meat and dairy producers, as well as bakers and makers of great local products.
Are there bargains?
As we support local producers, going straight to them to stock the shop allows us to get some good deals and pass savings on to our shoppers. In addition, as a member of the Plunkett Foundation, we have access to a network of suppliers at discounted rates. Many of our shoppers tell us that we must have mis-priced our goods as they are lower than the same products that are available in other local shops and large supermarkets. This isn’t a mistake, we really do have competitive prices on everyday items and local produce. Come in and see for yourself!
Is there a café?
We don’t have a full-blown café, but we do have a coffee shop that can seat between 10-12 people inside and decking outside that holds a picnic bench and park bench that can seat a further 10. We serve fresh coffee and a range of fair-trade and organic teas, plus hot chocolate, soft drinks, sausage rolls, ice creams and handmade cakes. We also provide free guest WiFi access. COVID-19: Please note that the internal coffee shop is currently closed, but takeaway food and drinks can still be purchased and consumed outside.
What are the opening hours?
Currently, we are open Mondays to Fridays from 8.30am to 5.30pm and Saturdays from 9am to 12pm. Advance notice will always be given of a change in opening hours.
Does the shop sell newspapers?
Yes! This was the number one item that people wanted from a community shop and the thing people missed most about not having a shop in the village. The number of people who have been driving just to get a paper in the morning or at weekends is staggering and unnecessary, so we look forward to cutting down the fuel miles with this one alone. we are happy to take regular orders of newspapers.
Is the shop licensed and how will you stop children from buying alcohol?
We hold a premises license to sell alcohol in the shop. The law requires that measures are taken to prevent alcohol being sold to underage customers and both the Management Committee and shop manager have guidance in place to make sure that this is achievable through staff and volunteer training, age verification, e.g. Proof of Age Standards Scheme (PASS) card.
Is the shop secure?
We have done everything we can to make sure that the shop is protected both while it is open and when it is closed. During the day, the shop is 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 is protected by adequate safety measures, including secure doors, CCTV and an intruder alarm system. The shop does not hold any cash in the till overnight and is insured against any unavoidable losses.
Staffing the shop
Will volunteers be expected to manage the shop on a day-to-day basis?
No. The Management Committee has appointed a permanent full-time manager who is accountable to the committee and its members and who also manages the volunteers.
Are there enough volunteers to staff the shop?
You can never have enough volunteers! We currently have a dedicated core team but still need more assistance, especially for the latter parts of the weekdays and Saturdays. Ideally, we need between 50-60 volunteers to make the opening hours sustainable.
Will the shop offer paid work experience opportunities?
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. This is just another way to support and benefit our village and the Management Committee continue to look at possibilities to make this happen, through the use of shop profits (when available) and/or external funding.
Deliveries to and from the shop
Are there lots of big lorries going up and down Little Lane all day?
Most deliveries are made in small delivery vans, similar to those used by supermarkets to deliver online shopping. Our main deliveries occur approximately three times per week, and daily deliveries restricted to newspapers, bread and fresh fruit/veg.
Does the shop make deliveries to local people who can’t get to the shop?
The shop’s aim is to serve and benefit as many people in our community as possible. We currently offer this service to those who cannot physically access the shop but who would still like to support us by buying their goods over the phone and having them delivered direct. If you would be interested in receiving deliveries, or if you could help deliver, please contact us.
Sustainability and waste
How do you reduce wastage?
Good stock management reduces much of the waste, but we would like perishable goods, such as fresh fruit and vegetables and goods approaching their use-by/sell-by dates, to be turned into other products such as soups, cooked meals, smoothies etc., some of which could be frozen to lengthen their useful life further. If you could volunteer some time to help us achieve this, please get in touch.
Are there sustainable energy options included in the building?
The building contains maximum natural light, plus a high level of insulation and our air conditioning is of very high efficiency, which is minimising both our heating and cooling costs. We have recently replaced our two freezers with one double freezer that is more energy-efficient, as well as having solar panels fitted thanks to a successful community funding scheme.
About the Share Offer
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, plus you can request the return of your investment in the future. Please refer to our prospectus for full details.
Who can invest and how much should I invest?
Anyone over 18 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 £10, for others £1000, and a few may invest £10,000 or more.
Now the shop is open, why do you still need to raise money?
We have built a shop of good quality and sufficient size to remain a village asset for at least fifty years, and have minimised costs wherever possible to allow the business to succeed. Although we raised as much money as possible in advance of opening, we still had to rely on the kindness of several local benefactors to provide us with bridging loans to pay for building, assets and stock prior to receiving our grant funding. As we will need to pay these loans back, we continue to fundraise to cover the debt while trying not to curtail the spending needed to run the shop.
We may hold fundraising events for specific one-off projects from time to time, e.g. our energy-saving initiative in spring 2020, which enabled us to purchase a new double freezer and solar panels.
Development and house prices
Does having a shop make it easier for developers to get permission to build more houses?
We sought the advice of B&NES Planning Policy Team, our local Ward Councillor, and Farmborough Parish Council to get the facts. The conclusion is that it will not affect the number of houses that can be built in the village and this is the full explanation as to why…
Official written response from the B&NES Planning Policy Team:
- Villages in B&NES not washed over by the Green Belt are identified in the B&NES Core Strategy as RA1 or RA2 villages. RA1 villages have three community facilities (a school, post office, shop or a meeting place) and a daily bus service. Villages without three services and no daily bus service are classed as an RA2 village. RA1 villages will receive about 50 dwellings over the Core Strategy Plan period (2011-2029) and RA2 villages will receive between 10-15 dwellings over the Core Strategy Plan period (Core Strategy, page 91).
- Farmborough in the adopted B&NES Core Strategy has been identified as an RA2 village as it has a school, a community meeting place (the Memorial Hall) and a daily bus service. If Farmborough opened a shop then it would become an RA1 village and would receive about 50 dwellings over the Plan period of 2011-2029, i.e. over the next 15 years. It should be noted that land at Brookside Drive (permitted on appeal) would provide 38 of these and the Old Lane development would provide 12 – making 50 dwellings within the Housing Development Boundary in Farmborough.
- As Farmborough is surrounded by the Green Belt any site for 10 dwellings would have to be within the Housing Development Boundary and not outside in the Green Belt, as there are no exceptional circumstances – see the Farmborough Housing Development Boundary and key.
- Please note that any development of nine dwellings or under within the Housing Development Boundary will not be counted towards the 50 dwellings figure. These sites are called ‘windfall’ or ‘infill’ sites. When the housing figures for the Core Strategy were being calculated, an assumed figure for ‘windfall’ and ‘in-fill sites’ across the villages was made and included in the overall housing figures for B&NES.
- “Infilling” – The filling of small gaps within existing development e.g. the building of one or two houses on a small vacant plot in an otherwise extensively built up frontage. The plot will generally be surrounded on at least three sides by developed sites or roads (definition from the Core Strategy, Part 1, page 156).
- “Windfall” – Windfall housing sites are those sites that have come forward unexpectedly (not identified for housing through the plan preparation process). They are generally small sites (up to nine units) for infill/within the housing development boundary, although larger windfall sites can occasionally come forward (definition from B&NES Planning Policy Team, November 2014 – this definition is not in the Core Strategy document).
Interpretation by the Management Committee, based upon discussions with the Parish Council and Ward Councillor:
- The shop will have no effect on ‘infill’ or ‘windfall’ housing applications, i.e. those for between one and nine houses.
- Since we already have planning approval for 50 dwellings, whether the village is classified as RA1 or RA2 is irrelevant – we have met the RA1 target of 50 houses already, and B&NES planning department have confirmed that in writing. While having the shop will affect the village classification, it cannot justify further development any more than having a school, community meeting place, or daily bus service, the other facilities that would count towards making Farmborough an RA1 village.
- The Green Belt surrounds Farmborough, as shown on the Housing Development Boundary map. Assuming the planning rules are followed, and unless the rules are changed in future (e.g. by a change in government policy), further development is constrained to areas within the Housing Development Boundary.
Does having a shop affect house prices?
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. For example, a property that was valued at £176,000 before the shop opened could have had its value raised by £9000 since the shop opened for business.