Following the closure of Milford Store, and the new owners of the building – Derwent Hydroelectric Power Ltd – keen to see the shop re-opening, might there be interest in opening a community shop along the lines of the ones in Kirk Ireton and Winster?
Both are very successful operations which have revitalised their community. Webmaster Ashley Franklin has just written a Derbyshire Life feature on Kirk Ireton and was very impressed with the community shop – The Stable Shop – which was opened in 2011.
As Ashley writes: ‘What became ‘the only financially possible option’ when their post office was closed, is now a vital resource and social hub. ‘It’s great for community cohesion’ says young Edward Watson, one of the paid students who works at the shop on weekends (most of the 30 helpers are unpaid volunteers).
There is a very impressive range of goods and services on sale here. Alongside fresh produce (all of it locally or regionally sourced) and groceries and household items, there are newspapers, magazines, stamps, a book swap service, dry cleaning, shoe repairs and a coffee-making machine plus a microwave should you fancy buying a pie and eating it straightaway.
If any village without a store is inspired by Kirk Ireton’s example – especially as all profits go to the community – the volunteers point out that considerable organisational skills are required, especially with regard to orders, operating costs, VAT, sales charts and rotas.
Can a community shop work in Milford? One positive about the store space is that it’s actually quite big. In other words, the store could occupy a half – maybe even a third – of the space, with the rest operating as a cafe or tea rooms which could also double as a meeting space.
What could be key to this venture is finding someone who would be interested in taking on the store as a paid manager/supervisor even though it would still operate as a community shop. Hopefully, that person – or maybe it would be a couple – will have some retail experience so that this wouldn’t then be a plucky, ‘have-a-go’ enterprise.’
Read about how a Grindleford community shop worked out. http://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/social-enterprise-blog/community-shops-big-business