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The Wallops Village Shop Association Ltd applied to the Hampshire County
Council/SEEDA funded Village Community Grant Scheme (VCGS) for £18,588 to
cover the cost of replacing a separate Post Office Counter with shop run Post Office
Local services, and to provide new products and services. Despite being spacious
with good staff, much of the space was devoted to general goods, cards and sweets,
with few products that were local or different. Consequently, much of the many local
community people never used the shop – except during bad weather!
The Wallops Shop is run by the Village Shop Association, which is committed to
retaining a local shop. It is housed in an extension to a house belonging to a previous
owner, from whom it is leased. Manager Charlotte Evans works part time, supported
by two other part time staff and three volunteers.
The Post Office’s decision to transfer the sorting office from Wallop to Winchester
and withdraw the counter operation at Over Wallop was seen as a move which could
have led to closure. However, the PO gave the Association the option to take over
the counter facility, to be rebranded as Post Office Local, which occurred in February
2011 as part of the refit. It offers a two-fold benefit, with commissions made through
transactions being paid to the Shop, and the added convenience of PO services
being available whenever the Shop is open.
The Wallops Shop is located at Pound Road, Over Wallop, seven miles from
Stockbridge in Test Valley District. A The village with has a church, pub, village hall
and preschool, and older children use the bus to attend schools at Nether Wallop and
Stockbridge. Well-signposted from the centre of Over Wallop, the shop has parking
outside and more further along the road. An active community, comprising around
3,000 people, there are organisations for all ages and interest, from the WI and
Horticultural Society to Field Club and Wallop Artists.
Although located in Over Wallop, the shop also serves Nether Wallop and Middle
Wallop, including the Army Air Corps Centre. It is the only shop of its kind in the area;
other retail outlets are a garage shop in Middle Wallop and wine shop in Nether
Wallop. Although there is some local employment, many salaried professionals
commute. The closest large towns are Stockbridge (seven miles) and Andover (nine
A site visit in January 2011 revealed considerable potential for the shop to improve
its offering. An application for £18,588 was submitted – and subsequently approved –
with support from Test Valley Borough Council, Over Wallop and Nether Wallop
Parish Councils, and the owners of the property to which the shop is attached.
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The Shop Association drew up a marketing plan after the 2010 Hampshire County
Council Village Shops’ Conference, and through this a refit was identified as the ideal
opportunity to relaunch the shop, featuring new products and serving hot
drinks/pastries inside and outside. The refit was completed during a weekend in
The work undertaken included: building work to incorporate the new PO Local
counter, secure office and postal area; electrical work; tidying and provision of proper
storage on the frontage; refurbish some worn flooring; office equipment (the office
has been moved and a kitchen installed), an exterior awning and paper stand,
freezer, and air conditioning. Some of the grant was used to market the shop – ‘fresh,
friendly and green!’ – and develop a website www.wallopshop.co.uk. A kitchen, bake-
off oven, coffee maker and heated display produce goods which can be enjoyed
inside or outside in fine weather.
Open from 7am-5.30pm Monday to Friday, 8am-5.30pm Saturday and 8am-12pm
Sunday, there are two-fold benefits: the PO Local ease of use as a pre-school or
work option for customers, and the range of fresh, new and appealing produce. The
PO Local offers everything from stamps and pre-ordered travel money to banking
and rod fishing licences.
The shop sells Greenfield Pork sausages and bacon – which usually disappears as
soon as it hits the shelves – local eggs from East Park Farm, homemade cakes and
muffins, freshly baked bread and local meringues, rapeseed oil from Grateley, plus a
good selection of essential tinned and dried goods, chilled and frozen items, fresh
fruit and vegetables, alcohol and greeting cards. Surplus allotment produce is also
donated by villagers.
Janet Clarke, Treasurer, Shop Association: “The customer reaction has been
really positive. The shop seems much larger and the work has been well received,
especially with comments on how well the space has been used. We’ve deliberately
kept the middle clear, as two queues can form for the PO and shop tills. It has to be a
balance for the use of space; yes, we could get more produce in, but our customers
prefer this way. Because we don’t have a lot of storage space and we don’t double
face our stock-keeping and ordering has to be precise. However, for Christmas, with
additional cards, wrapping and gifts, we will have to use the centre area.”
Lindsay Murray-Twinn, artist and Chairman, Over Wallop Parish Council:
“I think a lot of people were concerned about the PO changes, but it’s working very
well in the new form; having seen it’s running, it’s very good and efficient. The shop
has always been at the centre of our community, it’s important for more frail
residents, and lovely to see it thriving. The new layout is clean and welcoming. The
grant could not have come at a better time, because it’s given it a new lease of life.
We hope more newcomers will use it now that it has been improved.”
Edward Souter, Chairman, Nether Wallop Parish Council:
“The Wallops Shop is a valuable asset to the villages, providing access to: shopping,
newspapers and Post Office services to a comparatively isolated community where
public transport provides limited access to the nearest towns and shopping areas. In
the current economic climate it is doubtful whether the shop could have survived
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without receiving a grant. Although teams of volunteers have kept the shop going,
additional finance was required for essential items needing replacement to keep the
Chris and Jill Lovett: “We come in regularly for coffee and cake and it’s lovely to
meet up with people; it’s an important focal point for the community.”
The Shop Association is considering offering more Hampshire Fare produce and
would like to install an EPOS till system. Charlotte is keen to stock Broughton Water
Buffalo organic meat and lamb from nearby Nutley Farm, both of which have been
requested by customers.
Funding facts and contacts
The Hampshire County Council/SEEDA funded Village Community Grant Scheme is
targeted primarily at villages with fewer than 5,000 residents, with applications
welcome from community associations, village shop associations, parish or district
councils and formal voluntary associations. Private businesses may apply if they
have the written support of their parish council. Hampshire County Council, in
partnership with Community Action Hampshire, the Hampshire Association of Local
Councils and the South East England Development Agency (SEEDA), is running the
scheme which has so far awarded grants to 22 shops.
For more information: www3.hants.gov.uk/business/rural-initiatives/villagegrant.htm
or contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Published in November 2011 by HCC Economic Development Office
All pix with permission.
Customer Mrs Hopkins (pink sweater) at the PO Local till with manager Charlotte
Janet Clarke (orange tee shirt) Shop Association Treasurer at the till.
Julie Cleife (Charlotte’s mother), who does all the baking and cake-making, in front of
Chris and Jill Lovett enjoying coffee and cakes at the inside table.
Interior and exterior shots, including local produce and signage.