After our hopeful article in the last Village News and further consultation with some specialist advisers on potential profitability, with the utmost reluctance, the shop action group has come to the conclusion that it is simply too risky to go ahead. The main issues are:
- The space is too small to stock a large enough range of products to generate sales (it would need to be at least twice as big).
- Projected running costs are higher than we could afford, to be really comfortable we would need free premises.
- We would need to run the operation with no paid staff, and we know that to be successful we probably need a manager for at least 20 hours per week.
- We are lacking sufficient personnel for several key areas in the ‘management’ team (accounts/stock taker/buyer) and volunteers from the village to fill these slots have not been forthcoming.
- The opening hours of other profitable shops are 2 – 3 times longer than we can sustain with volunteers.
- There is a lot of risk with retail operations due to the opening hours, need for reliable staffing and risks of products going out of date.
The team has had the benefit of invaluable advice from the Plunkett Foundation that supports community businesses all over the UK and helpful meetings with neighbouring community shops. We have spent a year thoroughly investigating the project’s potential, with the support of Scott Patterson at the Dashwood, whose business has naturally been thrown off course by the pandemic. We are acutely aware of the importance of a shop for the village, as shown by the willingness of many households to commit to regular purchases and to support our farmers’ markets despite atrocious weather, so this has been a very difficult decision for us all.
We would like to thank everyone for the support that you’ve shown for the project and hope you understand our reasons for not being able to proceed.
We intend to continue to create community events throughout the year, such as the Farmer’s markets which have proved popular.
From – Friends of Kirtlington village shop (Caroline Cater, Celia Hawkesworth, Chris Brett, Louise Goodman, Steve Rice) with additional help from Richard Sadler, Scott Patterson & Tony Summerfield.