This is our local shop. We only have one. It is a post office too; one of those increasingly rare places that increasingly plug the holes left by banks retreating from our high streets and government agencies expecting everyone to go on line. Our village is six miles or so from the nearest supermarket, so the shop is also a life-line for groceries. (They even sell food for our chickens!)
But the shop been for sale for years now with no takers so there has been a real chance that we could lose it. This would be a disaster for all sorts of reasons. Villages like ours used to have a whole range of shops, pubs and churches which as well as meeting physical and spiritual need, also allowed us to mix, interact and build community. Most of these things are long gone, and Innellan is no different, except here, we decided to fight back.
Under the auspices of our local Community Development Company, we started to look at the possibilities of taking the shop into community ownership. There are numerous inspiring examples of other places who have done this- check out the stories on the Plunket Foundation website for example.
Momentum gathered and a community enterprise company was formed to start the huge amount of work required to submit funding bids, raise money and most importantly to engage local interest in making this happen. We are now at an exciting stage of the process- we have been awarded a substantial grant towards the cost of the property by the Scottish Land Fund, but we still need to raise about £60K for stock and other costs. We are hoping to do this through a community shares offer, and we are getting there, but still need some more dosh!
Can you help?
Do you know anyone who would be interested in investing in a small community business? If so, can you point them towards the South Cowal web site, here?
If you support this project, you are participating in a radical act of resistance.
I am excited by the possibility of a community buy out of the shop not because I will still have a small shop to get my pint of milk from, but rather because the shop offers a means by which our small sleepy community starts to renew itself, in the following ways;
- It will continue to offer employment opportunities to local people
- It will allow local people to have a direct connection and investment in a key local resource
- The shop will become a hub for information and engagement
- Phase 2 of the development will be to convert the upper flat into a bunkhouse. (There is very little in the way of affordable accommodation in our lovely area.)
- We hope to sell fresh local produce, and even to go plastic free wherever possible
- The post office. Essential for small businesses like ours!
There are of course dissenting voices. This is a village, and like all villages, allegiance to an idea is shaped by relationship. Misinformation is also easily spread and some feel ‘it will never happen’. But it IS happening. We are almost there.
Perhaps you can help us get over the line?
If you turn the whole project into a weekly podcast updating on progress, obstacles, victories – useful for groups all round the country wishing to do something similar coupled with things such as monthly interview with community ‘celebrities’ such as musicians, poets, campaigners, artists etc. It would also be great way of advertising the Bunkhouse. There is lots of funding available to new innovative podcasts. If you were interested in pursuing this possibility I could get you some extra information???? Maybe some corporate sponsorship from banks that are served through the post office counter if made aware of project via podcast????
Very best wishes with this amazing project.