Sparsholt Village Shop and Post Office

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					Sparsholt Village Shop and Post Office Ca se Study – Village Community Grant
Scheme


Overview

Sparsholt’s Village Shop and Post Office was bought by the community as
Sparsholt Village Shop Association Ltd, in January 2009 with a grant
from HCC Village Community Grant Scheme and local contributions. This
followed the retirement of the two former owners, after no one had come
forward to buy the business. With strong commitment from the village,
it is now thriving.

Background

With the retirements pending, something exacerbated by two serious
raids on the shop, a working party was formed through the Parish
Council to consider how to keep the village shop as a going concern.
Sparsholt Village Shop Association was established as an Industrial
Provident Society (IPS), chaired by Parish Councillor Caroline Horrill,
and the shop and PO were acquired in January 2009. The Association
applied to HCC for funding towards taking over the shop and buying the
business and covering first year operational costs, having raised
capital from the sale of shares at £25 each from more than 200 people
in the parish and also from very generous debentures. The Association
formulated ideas for improving financial viability, including
introducing new facilities: local food, dry cleaning, etc.

Impact on community

There are around 270 homes in Sparsholt and about 1,000 residents on
the Electoral Roll (including some 500 students at Sparsholt College).
Sparsholt kept its PO on reduced hours in the recent round of closures,
but nearby Littledon did not, whilst there is no shop/PO in Crawley,
the other nearest village. The Sparsholt shop and PO are situated in
the centre of the village on the main road in The Well House - a former
water storage tank – in what must be one of Britain’s smallest shops.
The nearest alternative shopping centres are at Winchester (4 miles),
Sainsbury’s at Badger Farm, Tesco to the north of Winchester, a small
Co-op and shops (with a Waitrose under construction) at Weeke (2
miles).

A vital resource for this close-knit community, especially elderly
residents, the shop attracts trade from not only local people and
passing trade, but also early morning commuters, students form nearby
Sparsholt College, builders/tradesmen working in the village and the
surrounding area, walkers/cyclists and Forestry Commission workers.

Funding

Sparsholt Village Shop Association applied to the Village Community
Grant Scheme for £20,000 to take over the shop/PO and found the Scheme
straightforward, with HCC supportive of its application.

Outcome
The Association received the requested grant, improved security
measures and undertook a minor amount of refurbishment. Despite extreme
space constraints, the shop has a card rack, fridge/freezer, new
outdoor lighting, an outdoor vegetable rack and newspaper rack, the
latter two items built by villagers. Open Monday to Saturday (PO 0900-
1200 except Saturdays) it is run by a team of paid part-time staff,
shop manager Anne Wood is assisted by Janette Davies and Terry Dunn and
many volunteers. All have an excellent rapport with regulars.

The range of fresh local produce has been expanded and embraced with
gusto by customers, who enjoy an excellent selection, including daily
freshly-baked bread and pastries from Lainston House, sausage rolls and
savouries, flowers from Sparsholt College, produce from local gardens,
meat from a butcher at Hursley (which results in a weekend run on bacon
and sausages for cooked breakfasts!), fish from Chilbolton and eggs
from Eastleigh. Dry cleaning is taken in and a prescription drop off
box was introduced in September 2009. Volunteers are being sought for
home delivery. If an elderly resident does not pop in for papers or
goods regularly, someone checks that they are not unwell. It is clearly
a community where everyone looks after each other.

Feedback

Caroline Horrill

“Our volunteers are integral to running it successfully – for example,
we have someone who takes away all the cardboard packaging for
recycling. It seems a small thing, but important as the shop’s tiny. We
have to keep on top of produce so people don’t get bored and we need to
encourage people to buy a little bit more. We could do with a few more
volunteers. The shop proved its worth during the snow early in 2009.”

Keith Wood, Winchester City Councillor/resident

“This is a sustainable community and the shop is the focus   of the
village, with the church opposite, the Village Hall behind   the shop,
along with the primary school, and The Plough pub down the   road. It’s
got everything – and remains a genuinely caring and social   community.”

Future

Local produce and suppliers are extremely important and the shop is
always looking at new products and ideas, as and when resources and
customer interest permits. There is space adjacent to it which could be
used for café/seating area.


 Funding facts and contacts

The 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 until
June 2011. 12 grants were awarded in year one, 2008/9.
For more information: www3.hants.gov.uk/business/rural-
initiatives/villagegrant.htm

Or contact: frances.stokes@hants.gov.uk

Published in September 2009 by HCC Economic Development Office
www.hants.gov.uk/business

Pix: interior, exterior, customers Bet Yates left with Janette Davies,
and Malcolm Hewson with Janette Davies (with permission)

				
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