24 May 2010

Guest Blog: Whiteshill and Ruscombe Shop report

Last week at the Whiteshill and Ruscombe AGM (see here) there were many reports from local groups - well Mary Dunford from the village shop has kindly let me use her piece here - it is a great summary of what they get up to - and an appeal for more volunteers - as I've said many a time it must be the cafe with the best views in Gloucesershire! So get on down and while you are there stop for some shopping.

Photo: view as I walked up to the shop last week!

This October will be the start of the Ruscombe and Whiteshill Community Shops twelfth year, a venture that many predicted would never last. It is a convenience store with coffee shop, with extensive views, situated on the playing fields. It is run entirely by unpaid volunteers, with an elected committee. The shop is still trading steadily and has a small financial cushion.
As well as every day items, the shop now sells a wide range of products to reflect changing tastes and lifestyles. These include Organic, Vegetarian, Fair Trade, Eco products, and alternative environmentally friendly cleaning products. The shop tries to offer locally produced products such as Winstones ice cream, Bottle Green cordials, bottled milk, free range and farm eggs and fruit and vegetables. Bread, pies and pasties are freshly baked daily on the premises. Arts and Craft items made by customers can be sold for a small commission for shop funds. Like Harrods we will always try to satisfy a customer’s request, but may have to draw the line at an elephant!

The shop uses mostly wholesalers and the Co Op ,who now give us a small discount. Earlier in the year another Committee member and I decided that the time had come again to undertake another undercover mission to check prices in other local small shops. Although we were not wearing headscarves and dark glasses, shopkeepers still looked on with bewilderment. It showed that the Village Shop can be less expensive than other local convenience stores. We were very pleased to find that as we do not have to pay wages we can continue to be very competitive.

Regular fundraising events and prize draws take place throughout the year, Pancake Races, Easter Fayre, Annual Sale, Halloween, ending the year with the Annual Christmas Fayre, and special refreshments are available in the coffee shop. At Halloween the adults often appear to be having more fun than the Children.

The committee would like to thank our customers for again being very generous in supporting our fundraising activities and donating goods, services and money towards shop repairs in a box on the shop counter. This enabled us to fund a new shop sign and badly needed new front door. Unfortunately, as soon as the door was in place intruders broke in one night and badly damaged it. The alarm went off and the intruders fled empty handed. When previously arson destroyed the toilet and badly damaged the shop exterior, the outside had just been painted .

The shop always DESPERATELY needs more volunteers. Unexpected sickness, holiday and other commitments of the volunteers mean that at times it has been extremely difficult to cover all the shifts. The shop has never had to close yet, but has come very close.

Volunteers are all ages and from all walks of life. It can be a great way to meet new people, make new friends and gain satisfaction from helping to keep this valuable asset for the community. Could you spare a couple of hours a week on a fairly regular basis, or be available occasionally to cover an unexpected empty slot. Volunteers other commitments will always be taken into account. Shifts are very flexible, can be on the till, in the coffee shop or a combination of both. Or have you other skills to offer, new ideas or connections.

The shop is open 9-5 during the week, 9-1 on Saturdays, and 9-11 on Sundays. So next time you run out of bread or other items why not pop round to the village shop, you will be saving on petrol, and probably money as well, for who comes out of a supermarket spending less than £10 on items that they didn’t know they needed. Why not pick up a basket and select a few items, you will be very pleasantly surprised at the prices. Maybe you would like to order a regular newspaper to which 5p is added to cover costs. Why not stop for a coffee, cake or light meal in the Coffee Shop, have a chat and put the world to rights. Again you will be pleasantly surprised at the prices. Perhaps you make like to arrange to volunteer as you leave?

During the winter the local schoolchildren are praying for snow, for a day off school, sledging on the playing fields. The Committee are probably the only adults in Whiteshill also hoping for deep snow as experience has shown that the shop will be used to capacity.

During the last heavy snowfall, the bread delivery van got stuck, and older children sledging on the playing field where commandeered to act as Sherpas, ferrying bread to the shop. As the traffic was at a standstill a volunteer set forth herocially with a sledge across the fields to Stroud to collect the newspapers.

So to reduce your carbon footprint, help the environment, and help maintain a valuable facility, use or volunteer at your village shop. You will be sure of a welcome.

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