Your Village Shop
There has been a shop and Post Office in Thurlton for many years. In fact at one time, together with the adjacent village of Norton Subcourse, there was a Post Office and Haberdashers, a three village shops, one with a petrol pump, a fish and chip shop, a blacksmiths, four pubs (plus a drinking club) and a village school. Over the years the village has quadrupled in size and is classed as a service village under the South Norfolk District Council Local Plan, yet there is now one pub, bought by members of the community about fifteen years ago and one shop. (All the surrounding villages have lost their shops and Post Offices and Thurlton was the only shop to retain its Post Office).
When the shop had been failing before, we started the process of consultation to form a Community Shop. This has twice been halted when someone has come along and offered to take over the rental payments. The Post Office was removed about three years ago and the business was latterly sold to someone who had previous experience of a city centre convenience store, but not a village shop in a rural environment. We did manage to regain an Outreach Post Office at the end of November 2015, and the premises also includes the thriving hairdressing salon, but after the Christmas break, the shop was closed and the stock taken away.
We formed a limited company in order to take on the utilities so that the Post Office and hairdressers could continue to operate. We stocked the shop with basic essentials to start with, financed with loans from shareholders and community members, also stocking many items on sale or return, using companies that have a long association with the shop. A number of volunteers helped run the shop, fetch papers, milk and meat each morning and went on buying trips to re-stock the shop.
We registered with Village SOS who approved our project and awarded us £1,500 to help with the costs of setting up as a Community Shop and we are received support from Community Action Norfolk (formerly NRCC). The shareholders of Thurlton Community Store Ltd. agreed to form a Community Interest Company (CIC). A CIC is a not for profit enterprise, owned and run by the community that it serves. We opened an account with Triodos, a bank that promotes social enterprises, and joined the Plunkett Foundation, an organisation that helps communities form Community Shops and gave us access to distribution networks for newspapers, groceries etc. and membership of the Local Network of Community Shops.
If you would like to be involved you can become members of the Community Interest Company. You may buy as many shares as you wish but it will always be ‘one member one vote’, however large or small your holding is. Straightforward donations funds will also be very welcome! An inaugural general meeting was held when the CIC was formed at which members voted for the people they wanted to run the company. Thereafter the executive committee (elected at each Annual General Meeting) carry out the business on your behalf and hold an AGM at which you may use your vote and have your say. You can also join the volunteer list to help with the many tasks involved in running a village shop. As more volunteers have come forward, the less hours those volunteers have to spend in the shop.