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Week St. Mary Community Shop & Post Office

Officially opened 8th April 2017

The Story so far...

• 31st July 2017

Thank you!

We would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who helped to move out the old vegetable display unit and move in the new! Especially, Steve and Mike Fry, Chris and Jen Spettigue for giving up an evening. Also thanks to Dick Bolt with his digger, Nigel Barriball and Jake Cartwright for assisting Whitstone Waste to get it on the truck, who took time out of their working day.

The time you gave is very much appreciated - Many thanks to you all .

• 30th June 2017

Your Community Shop still needs volunteers.

We have now completed the first 3 months of trading and have successfully managed to maintain opening hours – only having to close early one Saturday afternoon due to lack of staff. However, the holiday period is upon us and the current volunteers will be taking holidays and are already working as many shifts as they can manage.

The situation is that if there are not sufficient volunteers, particularly when Anna or Caroline are not working, we will have to look to reduce the opening hours of the shop. This has the knock on effect of the less hours the shop opens the harder it will be to make a profit. Ultimately, if the shop is not financially viable it would have to close! This is definitely not something anyone would want to see as so many people have worked so hard to get to where we are.

Please ask yourself:

• Do I want the essential services provided to the village by the Community Shop to continue?

• Can I give a couple of hours per week?

If you answered ‘Yes’ to either question please speak to Anna or Caroline about volunteering to help in any way you can. There are many jobs in the shop which do not include serving customers or using the post office which are as essential to the running of a successful business.

Many thanks.

• 31st May 2017

We have recently had the good news that we have been awarded a grant of £2,000 from Cornwall Community Foundation. This is not, unfortunately, the full amount that we requested so we have drawn up a list of priorities. Our first two purchases will be a new vegetable display unit and a double chiller cabinet that will replace the two currently at the back of the shop. We are investigating further grants for the purchase of other equipment.

Unfortunately, due to work commitments, Lee Bacchus has had to stand down from his role as Chair though he remains on the committee. We are delighted that Sharon Barriball has stepped into the breach and is our new Chair. Andy Jones has resigned from the committee due to work commitments and Micheline Smith has joined. Karen Poole is now the committee member responsible for volunteers and she or, of course, Anna or Caroline are the contacts for volunteers.

We are holding a social get together/training session on the afternoon of Sunday, June 11th for

volunteers. Look out for further details on our Facebook page or in the shop. We still need more volunteers - don’t forget volunteers do not have to use the till – there are many other roles to be filled.

The shop is now fully stocked and below are the trading figures for the first three months of trading:

March: Average no customers per week 874 - Average spend per week £3.80*

April: Average no customers per week 868 - Average spend per week £4.47*

May (first 3 weeks): Average no customers per week 857 - Average spend per week £4.33*

BREAK-EVEN TARGET:  Average no customers per week 870 -  Average spend per week £4.80*

*Excluding National Lottery sales

We are not yet trading at break-even. We could achieve this if everyone visiting the shop spent an extra 50p on some goods they need, rather than buying them elsewhere, perhaps by taking advantage of our special offers. Don’t forget you can place orders for all bakery products – order before 4.00 pm for next day delivery. We also take orders for Swannacott meat products. A list of products for both suppliers is available in the shop.

  • Week St. Mary celebrates opening of new community shop - Saturday 8th April 2017

A large crowd of supporters gathered for the opening of the parish’s new community shop and Post Office. The new management team, committee and volunteers welcomed customers, existing and new, and showcased the wide range of products and services for sale. Plans for further development were also discussed.

Guests of honour Jeff Roberts, the previous shop owner for 36 years, and Jade and Zara Turner, village Harvest Queens, cut the ribbon to mark the start of a new era.  

With the retirement of Jeff and Monica Roberts, there was a real possibility that the thriving and growing community of Week St Mary would no longer enjoy the essential services a local shop provides. Faced with this risk, a dedicated group of volunteers got together, developed a business plan, consulted the community, formed a company and raised the funding to ensure services continued seamlessly.

The Shop is operating from its existing premises facing the village Square. It is being run by Manager, Anna Willoughby, and Assistant Manager, Caroline Fry and a team of volunteers. The Shop continues to offer Post Office services. Anna comments, “We are so grateful to our customers and volunteers. Our suppliers too have been so supportive. For example, Penpont Brewery from Altarnun have even provided a special Week St Mary Community Ale which flew off the shelf at the opening”

Lee Bacchus, Management Committee Chairman continued, “Without the practical support and commitment of Jeff and Monica Roberts who were committed to the continuation of the service, the community shop would not have happened. We were delighted Jeff agreed to be Guest of Honour at our Opening Ceremony. As well as marking a new beginning, the event was an opportunity for the Parish to say ‘thank you’ for 36 years of exemplary and dedicated service to the community.”

  • Saturday 8th April 2017:

8.00-10.00am Shop open as usual for morning requirements

10.00-10.30am Shop closed to prepare for the Official opening

From 10.00am WI serving light refreshments outside the shop

10.30am Opening ceremony – Jeff Roberts and Harvest Queens to cut the ribbon

10.45am Shop re-opens with special products on offer

“spend a little less elsewhere and make a BIG difference here…”

As you will all know, our community took over the running of the shop and Post Office on Sunday 5th March. This was less than 3 months after the decision to go ahead was taken at the Parish Open Meeting on 7th December 2016.

The official opening will be on Saturday 8th April 2017 at 10.30 in the morning – see page 1 of the Parish Magazine for the full programme. We are delighted that Jeff Roberts will be our guest of honour.

Notwithstanding one or two teething troubles and with Jeff’s help, we were pleased that all customer services were maintained almost without interruption. Anna and Caroline and our team of enthusiastic volunteers (both those you see in the shop and those behind the scenes) were key to this.

Our initial priority is to re-stock. You will have noticed the shelves and refrigeration units filling up and the product range expanding. Fruit and veg is delivered 3 times a week (Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday). Browse around on your next visit and see what is on offer, including an amazing range of bakery products. There will be some special merchandise available to mark the official opening. 

We  have made some changes to the layout and décor but more major steps are on hold pending the outcome of a £3,000 grant application.

In terms of more community services, the book exchange is open and there is a small noticeboard by it for community use e.g. offering or advertising services. Larger notices about village events will be continued to be displayed in the shop window area. 

Although the initial objective to take over the shop when Jeff retired has been achieved, much remains to be done. The first task is to get the enterprise running smoothly and turn it around into profit by increasing sales. We then need to start planning for its long-term home.

However, resources are stretched on the Management Committee and amongst the shop volunteer team. Both need strengthening. 

  • What can you do to help?

  • Buy as much of your weekly shopping requirements in the Community Shop as you possibly can.
  • Look at our Facebook page for news items and special offers.
  • If you have 2.5 hours to spare a week (or even fortnightly or every third week) please ask in the shop about becoming a volunteer - we still need more!
  • Join the Management Committee.
  • Join us on Saturday 8th April for the grand opening.

  • Sunday 5th March 2017:

On Sunday 5th March, Week St Mary community took control of the shop and Post Office in Week St Mary on the retirement of the current proprietor.

Jeff Roberts had run the business for 36 years but was unable to find a buyer to take it over. He and his wife Monica therefore approached the Parish Council about the prospect of the community acquiring it, recognising the need to preserve this vital community resource.

After a public meeting in October 2016, a feasibility study group was formed which reported back positively at a second meeting in early December. There was a clear show of public support and pledges were received to help establish a community-owned shop.

Since then, a determined group of locals have set up a Community Benefit Society, Week St Mary Community Shop Limited, and have been hard at work raising finance and preparing for the take-over. Over £20,000 for working capital was raised through a community share issue (which enables people to become members – and democratic owners – of the shop) and grants of £1,600 were received from Week St Mary Parish Council and the local County Councillor’s Community Chest to cover start-up costs. 

The Society will lease the current shop premises from Jeff and Monica Roberts for the next 4 years, creating time for longer term options to be assessed.

Lee Bacchus, Chair of the Society said “Parish support has been critical and our success is testament to the strong community spirit in Week St Mary. 110 parishioners invested to keep our shop and Post Office open and we have 20 volunteers who will support 2 part-time employees in running the operation”.

The official opening of the Community Shop will be on Saturday 8th April, to give time for the new shop signage, some layout changes and re-stocking.

Chair of Week St Mary Parish Council, Micheline Smith, commented “This has been a tremendous effort by the community. In the space of a few months, we have gone from the prospect of losing our shop, Post Office and main community hub, to having its future secured for at least the next 4 years. To an isolated community like ours, this is fantastic news”.

  • Sunday 26th February 2017:

We must begin with another thank you to all the members of our community who have offered support in terms of time, money, ideas and promises of help. This fantastic response has put us in a very good position and we have set a date for the community to take on the running of the shop on Sunday 5th March.

We plan to hold an official opening ceremony in late March or early April to allow time for the new sign to be put in place, some layout changes made and some special launch products to be stocked. Full details will be publicised soon.

The major unknown at the time of writing is when our bank account will be operational. Hopefully this will not delay a 5th March take over.

Some other key points on our current position:

21 volunteers have been included in the first week's rota. More volunteers will always be needed for a range of roles within the shop. If you can spare any time on a weekly, fortnightly or monthly basis, please contact Anna, Caroline or a committee member. Saturdays and to a lesser extent Sundays are the days when more help is most needed.

Initially, the shop will open from 8:00am - 1:00pm and 3:30pm - 6:00pm Monday to Friday, 8:00am - 6:00pm Saturday and 9:00am - midday on Sundays, whilst the Post Office will be open on Saturday morning and every weekday morning except Thursdays and at least 4 weekday


Take up of shares has exceeded our initial target and expectations. Including donations, the total is just over £20,000 and there will be 100 members of the Community Benefit Society. This will allow us to increase our stock target of £12,500 if necessary and a have a healthy cash balance on opening - this is great news and shows a great commitment from shop supporters. Cheques will be banked as soon as the bank account is open and share certificates will be issued thereafter.

A shop manager (Anna) and assistant manager (Caroline) are ready to take up their roles on the opening of the shop with a combined total of 35 hours work between them. The responses to the questions posed at the last Open Meeting have been taken into account. The shop sign will be yellow writing on a green background and a range of stock and potential extension of services have been identified including the possibility of a prescription collection service. 

We are in a strong position to succeed with the opening and maintenance of the community shop into the future. For the community to retain this key asset in the future, further support in just two key areas is required:

We need some more volunteers who could offer some time to work in the shop (a shift is usually two and a half hours). 

We need people to use the shop more regularly and to increase their spend. 

If each household makes a commitment to divert a relatively small percentage from their supermarket spend or on-line delivery order to the Community Shop, it will make a huge difference to the success of this venture.

With a continued commitment to support the shop by volunteering and using the store, we hope to be in a position to extend quality, services and opening hours as time goes on.

Finally, the progress made so far, thanks to the support of so many members of our community, has been impressive and gives us great cause for optimism. With continued support and encouragement to those not yet engaged, the community shop and post office has a real chance of success in the longer term.                Lee Bacchus

  • Tuesday 24th January 2017:

Management Committee - Update on progress...

We must begin with a thank you to all the members of our community who have offered support to our project in terms of time, money, ideas and offers of help.

This fantastic response has put us in a very good position and we are optimistic that a fully functioning community general store will be able to open before the end of February.

Some of the key points of our current position:

• Financial pledges of almost £18,000 have been made so far. This is on target to allow us to meet our stock target of £12,500 and a cash balance on opening - this is great news and shows a great commitment from shop supporters.

• A shop manager (Anna) and assistant manager (Caroline) are ready to take up their roles on the opening of the shop with a combined total of 35 hours work between them.

• 23 people have volunteered for front line shop and Post Office duties which is a great start and will allow the shop to open for some time most days. To be able to offer our planned opening times morning and afternoons Monday to Saturday and Sunday morning, several more volunteers are required and more committee members are always welcome.

• The 'Week St Mary Community Shop Ltd' has now been formed with associated legal and banking processes well on the way to completion.

• A well supported Open Meeting on 23rd January gave attendees the chance to have their say on the design of the Community Shop sign (which will influence our branding design), the items and services that people would most like to see available in the shop and the chance to ask questions and express opinions.

• The Community Share Offer was launched on 21st January 2017. If you have not already seen a copy, they are available in the shop or from this Community Shop page on the village website. The offer closes on 11th February 2017.

We are in a strong position to proceed with the opening of the community shop on time and as planned. For the community to retain this key asset in the future further support in just two key areas are required:

• We need a few more volunteers who could offer some time to work in the shop (a shift is usually two and a half hours).

• We need people to use the shop on a regular basis. If each person made a commitment to regularly buy just one extra item from the community shop instead of that item from their supermarket shop, it would make a huge difference to the success of this venture.

The Plunkett Foundation, who have offered invaluable help and support in this project gave us some food for thought.

Where a village has seen the closure of its only shop, average house prices have fallen by approximately 10%!

Finally, the progress made so far, thanks to the support of so many members of our community, has been impressive and gives us great cause for optimism. With continued support and encouragement to those not yet engaged, the community shop and post office has a real chance of success in the longer term.

More information on volunteering is available on this page.    Lee Bacchus (Chairman)


Launch Date: 21st January 2017 ~ Closing Date: 11th February 2017


You are invited to invest in a community owned shop and Post Office for Week St Mary. Week St Mary Community Shop will be a new community shop and Post Office, taking over Jeff Roberts’s business when he retires. It will be owned by local residents and run as a co-operative for the benefit of the community. We invite everyone to become a member and help keep a shop open in Week St Mary.


  • Monday 23rd January 2017:


At the meeting we will present our final plans for the shop and give details about the community share offer.

There will be an opportunity to ask questions about the project.

At 8.30 pm there will be a meeting of all volunteers to share thoughts on organisation, training etc.


How you can help?

 • By subscribing for shares and becoming a member/shareholder

 • By volunteering to help serve in the shop and Post Office

 • By volunteering your time and skills to help with specialist tasks (administrative as well as practical)

 • Most important of all – shop in the shop when it’s open!


And finally...

We have been encouraged by the enthusiasm and support that has been shown from people across

the parish and we believe that together we can create something which will benefit everyone in the

community. We need your continued support to make this happen, so if you want Week St Mary to

have a thriving community shop then please support the project and become a member/shareholder.

  • Introduction:

After 35 years of running Week St Mary’s village shop and Post Office, Jeff Roberts is retiring at the end February/early March 2017. He was unable to find a buyer for the shop on the open market and approached the Parish Council about the community taking it over. Unless this happens, Week St Mary will lose this vital facility.

  • Week St Mary Community Shop – the plan in summary:

WSM Community Shop will be run by the community for the benefit of the community. The plan has 2 phases. Phase 1 is to rent the current shop premises for a period of 4 years for £6,000 per annum and then to either:

   • acquire the freehold or long leasehold of the current shop premises as a permanent base;

   • relocate to an alternative (not yet identified) site in the village; or

   • seek to extend the initial rental arrangement.

Phase 1 will be funded by offering shares to the local community, supplemented by donations and grants. For phase 2 (in 2019/20) significant extra capital will be required to execute either option 1 or 2. This will come mainly from grants.

The new enterprise will add more community services to the current retail activities and hosting of the outreach Post Office. There will be a notice board for village information, a free book/DVD exchange and, subject to volunteer numbers, a delivery service for the house bound or less able.

The Society will be offering part-time contracts of employment to the two staff currently working in the business. Anna Willoughby will be the manager working mornings and concentrating on the retail operation. Caroline Fry will be assistant manager, working each afternoon, and will have specific responsibility for the Post Office operation. Together, their hours will equate to a full time equivalent. They will be supported by a team of volunteers (ideally 35+ strong) from the community.


Week St Mary’s Parish Council convened an open meeting on 20th October, 2016 and six residents volunteered to carry out a feasibility study to consider whether the community could acquire the shop. This group made a positive recommendation at a second open meeting on 5th December, 2016. Four members of the feasibility study group and two others were mandated to incorporate and become first members of Community Benefit Society (a cooperative) formed to take the project forward.

Week St Mary Community Shop Limited (“the Society”) was incorporated on 3rd January 2017.

The Management Committee currently comprises:


Lee Bacchus** (Chair), Andy Jones, Sharon Barriball, Karen Poole** (Secretary), Brenda Jennings**, Stephen Smith** (Treasurer)

** first member

We are all volunteers and between us we have a broad range of experience in areas including business and financial management, project management, legal and HR matters and procurement. We lack retail expertise which will come from the managerial staff and the sharing of best practice by other community shops also affiliated to the Plunkett Foundation. The latter is a charity specialising in helping communities undertake projects like ours. 

At the Society’s first AGM in mid-2018, in line with its Rules, we will all stand down and offer ourselves for re-election by members. In the meantime, we can co-opt some further members and encourage anyone else who is willing to commit time and energy to put themselves forward to get involved.

  • Why have the share issue?

The share issue is an opportunity for local people and organisations to contribute financially, on a long term basis, to a community shop in Week St Mary, in the expectation of receiving a social dividend rather than a financial return. This social dividend will mean different things to different people, but may include:

 • having a shop in the village to get daily staples (milk, bread, papers, etc.);

 • a “community hub” where people can continue to meet, make friends and exchange information;

 • a way of ensuring good quality local produce is available to the community, to support local producers and reduce food miles;

 • retaining local Post Office and banking facilities;

 • the positive impact on house prices and saleability; and

 • contributing to Week St Mary remaining a desirable place to live.

  • Is the business viable?

Evidence suggests that it will be. A community shop differs from a privately owned shop. Most importantly, sales are likely to be higher as the shop’s primary customers – the community – will own and run the business and will both want it to succeed and be more easily able to shape the shop to local needs.

Community owned shops of this type are opening across the UK and have proved a very resilient form of business. 337 are currently open and only 16 are known to have closed, which gives a survival rate of 95%. This compares extremely positively with estimations for UK small business national survival rate of 45%, (Source - Plunkett Foundation website, January 2017).

We have prepared a business plan with detailed financial information and reasoning behind our sales and profit forecasts. For convenience, a copy is being sent to all those who have already pledged to invest.

  • Does the community support this initiative?

We believe there is strong support for a community shop within the community:

 • the 2008 Parish Plan showed “overwhelming support (98%) for the village shop and Post Office” and that “at least 81% use it regularly and see it as a vital service”;

 • of 50 households surveyed at random in November 2016, 49 were strongly in favour of retention of the facility with 1 undecided;

 • unanimous support was given by those present at the two recent open meetings;

 • 105 people from 71 households have made financial pledges of support totalling £17,725; and

 • 23 people have volunteered to help in the shop/Post Office once it is open and 13 more to provide periodic specialist assistance.

  • What investment do we need to succeed?

We are aiming to raise a total of £23,600 for Phase 1. Donations worth £1,500 for registration fees and (free) legal assistance have already been secured. Further funding of £1,100 from the Parish Council is being requested for transition and set up costs.

Through this share offer and linked “founder” donations, we are aiming to raise at least £18,000 by the closing date to invest in working capital. £1,500 will be deposited with the newspaper wholesaler so that deliveries on a sale or return basis can be made directly rather than picked up by volunteers from an intermediary. Stock will be purchased at cost from the current proprietor and then built up to a core level of £12,500 with intra-month and seasonal fluctuations. This will leave a cash reserve of around £4,000 to cater for both these fluctuations and running costs paid in lump sums e.g. rent and insurance.

The existing fixed assets in the shop will be bought for £1 initially, with deferred payments over 4 years related to profitability, capped at £9,000, in the form of additional rent. Capital expenditure on surveillance and electronic point of sales systems, etc. will take place post acquisition, allowing time for grant applications e.g. to Cornwall Community Foundation’s Discretionary/Generic Fund for £3,000 to be considered at a March 2017 funding round.

  • How does the share issue work?

A single £10 share confers membership of the Society, and each applicant can apply for any number of shares up to a legal maximum value of £100,000.

Decisions at General Meetings, including election of the Management Committee, are democratically taken on the basis of one member one vote regardless of the number and value of shares the member owns and any member aged 18 or over can stand for election.

Shares cannot be sold to another person, but investors may be able to withdraw them once the business has been trading for about five years. Withdrawal will be at the discretion of the Management Committee who will consider if the business has adequate profits and cash reserves to fund the requested withdrawal.

Buying shares should be seen as a long term investment for the benefit of the community. It is not the same as making an investment in a public or private enterprise where the investor makes a capital gain from the increase in the value of the shares. Shares in the Society cannot increase beyond their nominal value of £10 and could reduce in value if the shop fails to prosper. However, because the shares are issued by a limited company, no further liability can fall on you as a shareholder.

The Society will not pay a dividend on the shares, but the Management Committee could consider paying interest in the future should finances of the Society permit it. Any profits not needed for the development of the business or repayment of shareholders will be used for the benefit of the community, which we have defined as the residents of the Parish of Week St Mary.

The investment is not guaranteed but renting the premises, initially with a break clause after 18 months or with 6 months notice thereafter, gives downside protection. If the venture proves unsuccessful in trading terms or a permanent base cannot be secured to execute phase 2, the stock can be liquidated and, after redundancy and other closure costs and settling creditors, the net proceeds can be used to repay share capital.

  • What happens if we don’t raise enough money or we fall short with volunteers?

We are very optimistic that we will raise sufficient funds given the level of financial pledges already made by members of the community.

We do however need more volunteers to come forward to help with running the shop. If, in the event, there is a shortfall in either resource, we will call an open meeting on 15th February, 2017 to decide if we should still go ahead with taking over the shop but running it on a smaller scale with restricted opening hours.

  • Risks

We have identified a number of risks for Week St Mary Community Shop Limited. These include:

 • Failure to raise sufficient capital

 • Failure to achieve the predicted level of turnover and/or gross margin

 • Non-controllable outside factors affecting Post Office or lottery commission income

 • Dependence on volunteers to staff the shop

 • Longer term in Phase 2, the failure to secure a permanent base

This list is not necessarily comprehensive and any trading activity is vulnerable to changing or unanticipated risk. Our share offer is exempt from the Financial Services and Markets Act  2000 or subsidiary regulations; this means you have no right of complaint to an ombudsman.

A Community Benefit Society is registered with, but not authorised by, the Financial Conduct Authority and therefore the money you pay for your shares is not safeguarded by any depositor protection scheme or dispute resolutions scheme. As the whole of your investment could carry a risk, please consider it carefully, and if needed seek independent financial advice.

    50º 45'03.84N    4º 30'01.39W        OS:  SX 237977           Elevation: 142m
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