Community shops are popular, with most being far more resilient than chain stores, as they don’t shut down during recessions etc. Most have one paid manager, then the rest of the staff are usually volunteers who all give a few hours time each month. Owned by the community, you can usually choose what you wish to be stocked, as it’s your shop! If you run a community shop, try to cater for the community rather than profit.
If buying (or selling) plants in community shops, learn how to make gardens safe for pets (includes indoor plants to avoid). Avoid facing indoor foliage to gardens, to help stop birds flying into windows.
The Galleries Shop & Cafe (just outside Bath) is a great example of good community shop. Housed in a new eco-building (walkers can top up their water bottles as they go past), the shop sells local food and herbs (from their own garden) and also local art. There is a post office (where people can pick up parcels if they are out) and you can also borrow cloth bags and brollies, with an adjacent cafe.
The Plunkett Foundation are the experts on all-things-community-shop. They can help you set up or save a community shop (or pub) and also provide discounted services like insurance. The site includes lots of inspiring tales of people who bought their own community shop, often to save a village store that had been owned by families for generations (to stop it being taken over by big corporate business).
Read The Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap. This is the story of a couple who had always dreamed of owning a bookstore. When the opportunity arose to escape a toxic work environment and run to a struggling Virginia mining town to open a bookstore, they plunged into the dream. They chose to ignore ‘the death of the book’ and the fact that people were closing bookstores nationwide. And six years later with their pets and books and a love of life, they managed to create something else – a community amid the Appalachian mountains.
life in the village hardware shop
Rivets, Trivets & Galvanised Buckets is the story of the author’s daughter-in-law who took over a hardware shop that was over 100 years old. The family dreams of developing the shop into one that would become the centre of village life. But although this did come true – not in the way they had expected.
Intervweaving the evolution of the shop and previous owners with the customers served and items sold, this book offers a delightful study of community, and shines a light on the eccentricities of ordinary people. It also presents a fascinating history of technology – from who thought up screwdrivers to where spirit levels come from. From who devised the process of galvanisation to the genius who worked out that a suction pad on the end of a piece of wood, could unblock sinks.
Hardware shops (ironmongers) are few and far between these days, but please do support them as they are an essential part of our communities. Unlike big DIY stores that sell nails in plastic bags, at an ironmonger you can just buy one – loose! And the owner is likely to know about DIY, rather than the sometimes gaumless assistants in big superstores who don’t know their chisel from their hacksaw!