When the last shop in their village closed down, the residents of Cobham were determined to give their community a focal point.
But resigned to the fact that a shop was not economically viable, they decided the only way to build a new one was to volunteer their expertise and labour – including baking bread.
Together they set about raising £85,000 before taking on the lease of the former convenience store, refurbishing and stocking it – and crucially recruiting 62 volunteers to run it.
The team behind the venture in the Kent village include a lawyer, a scientist and human resources manager.
They pooled their professional skills and expertise, with a local interior designer overseeing the layout and an investment consultant acting as company secretary.
But they are not alone: when Cobham Village Stores opened before Christmas it became the 300th community shop as villagers across the country choose to volunteer to run their own shops, pubs and Post Offices rather than live without.The article quotes someone from the Plunkett Trust. Back in June 2011 Mike Perry, the Trust's head of communications, wrote a guest post for this blog on the community shops movement.
Community-owned shops are not only opening at a rapid rate, they are also staying open. Some 97 per cent of community-owned shops that have ever opened are still open. The model works and communities are increasingly using it to try saving or introducing other vital services whether this is saving the local pub, buying land for communal growing or establishing a community-owned broadband enterprise.Incidentally, the Plunkett Foundation turns out to be named after Sir Horace Plunkett, a Victorian agricultural reformer and MP.