The ’emergency shop’ in Brent Knoll – opened in response to the Coronavirus pandemic – will remain open until the end of June.
The shop’s Steering Group, which is working towards a permanent community shop for the village, has made the announcement this week.
It follows the closure of the village’s shop and Post Office while a community survey has already confirmed local support for a long-term community shop.
Having established their ’emergency shop’ in just ten days, with opening hours of 9-11am each day (except Wednesdays and Sundays), the volunteers say they have achieved sales of more than £6,000 for their first month, with a profit of £700.
The shop has been boosted by special ventures, including an ‘isolation Bake-Off’ event, which raised £200, and the contribution of buskers to entertain the queues of socially-distancing customers.
Home-isolating bakers in Brent Knoll delivered their cakes, biscuits, breads, and jam for the “Isolation Bake-Off” event at the shop. The result was a contribution of £200 to the coffers of the Emergency Shop, including the takings of the morning’s busker, Colin Lapage, who entertained the queuing customers.
At a time when shops throughout the country have struggled to meet demand for flour, the shop forged a relationship with the Matthews Cotswold Flour company to have every type of flour on their shelves. Bertie Matthews, the head of that company, took part in a “live-streamed” video to mark the opening of the Brent Knoll event.
Every baker provided details of the ingredients for their produce and suggested the price at which they were sold for the shop’s funds. After the two hours of the shop being open, most of those products had been sold. The remainders were delivered as a gift for the NHS staff at Weston-super-Mare’s General Hospital.
David Sturgess, a member of the Community Shop Steering Group, says: “This enterprise has demonstrated how a village community can come together and enjoy the pleasure of a shared venture.”
The team has now submitted its application to become a Commercial Benefit Society, under the auspices of the Plunkett Foundation, a national charity that has backed more than 300 successful rural Community Shops.
“Becoming a Community Benefit Society will enable us to open our own bank account, take out our own insurance, and take us to the next stages of creating a community shop – with the potential to restore our village Post Office.”
With an eye on changing Government guidelines, the Brent Knoll team will meet again in mid-June to review future plans for the Emergency Shop.
Meanwhile, the next initiative from the Brent Knoll Emergency Shop will be announced next week which, mysteriously, they say “involves one of the world’s leading airlines.”