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 SNDC Local Plan, yet there is now one pub, bought by members of the community about ten 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 has been failing before, we have 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 a Post Office Outreach at the end of November, 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 the 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 help man the shop, fetch papers, milk and meat each morning and go on buying trips to re-stock the shop.

We have registered with Village SOS who have approved our project and awarded us £1500 to help with the costs of setting up as a Community Shop and we are receiving support from Community Action Norfolk, (formerly NRCC). The Plunkett Foundation is an organisation that helps communities form Community Shops and joining the organisation will give us access to distribution networks for newspapers, groceries etc. and become part of the Local Network of Community Shops.  We have had a number of meeting of the shareholders of Thurlton Community Store Ltd., deciding on the way forward. We have agreed that we will form a Community Interest Company, join the Plunkett Foundation and, (because of problems with the Co-Op Bank), open an account with Triodos, a bank that promotes social enterprises. At the recent public meeting an executive committee was elected from the people who attended with the remit of going out into the community to explain how you can become members of Thurlton Community Shop and carry out a survey of residents. We have also been talking to customers about what they would like to see in the shop. We will soon have a website

A Community Shop is a not for profit enterprise, owned and run by the community that it serves. We plan to start a café in the shop as many people like to come into the shop to socialise, this will provide a place for people to meet. We will also provide an internet facility for those who do not have access to the internet and will assist those to use it should they need help. We can also provide space for our MP and District Councillor to meet residents and plan to hold sessions for an Independent Living Group.

If you would like to be involved you can become members of the Community Interest Company, (at the public meeting a decision was taken that a minimum of £50 would be appropriate).  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 the first general meeting), will carry out the business on your behalf and hold an Annual General Meeting 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, (we have already been able to stay open during lunch hours).