Sunday, 16 May 2021

Village-run store welcomes customers after lockdown

EWELME Village Store re-opened on Monday last week.

The store reduced its staff to two people during the last coronavirus lockdown and had been offering deliveries for the first time during the pandemic.

Sarah Maine, who has chaired the store’s management committee since it opened in 2009, was really excited to be back up and running.

She said: “It’s good to feel like we are going back to normality and we are putting a smile on people’s faces, they are pleased to be back.

“We’ve gone traditional, we are in a listed building in the heart of the village and selling home-made cakes, soups, coffee and teas is what works best for us. One of the things which seems to appeal to lots of our customers is our traditional feel, and we’re reflecting that in our tea shop menu, which has been designed by our volunteers.

“We’ve been serving people through the door during lockdown but to have people coming in feels like we are making progress.”

Ms Maine said that home deliveries proved to be very popular as residents stayed at home to halt the spread of covid-19.

She said: “We went from doing zero deliveries to doing up to 40 per day, which was exhausting but rewarding, because people were really grateful and it was appreciated by the community — we learnt a lot as we went along. Everyone in the village has been saying that they couldn’t do without the shop.

“When we first opened, our goal was to become a focal point for the village and we have achieved that, especially during such a difficult time.”

Ewelme Village Store is a not-for-profit community initiative and it is owned, staffed and stocked by villagers.

It sells meat, fruit and vegetables as well as fish, milk, bread, wine and beer, newspapers and other essentials, including stamps.There is also a small café selling tea, coffee and cakes.

In November 2007 a village survey established that most residents were keen to support the re-opening of a village shop, pledging both financial and volunteering help.

With the help of Lord and Lady Jay, who live in the village, the old post office was renovated and leased back to the village for use as a community shop for a nominal rent per annum.

In order for the store to open, more than 350 villagers bought a £10 share, made a donation or held a fundraising event, bringing in more than £21,000.

The shop, which celebrated its 10th anniversary in May 2019, also received grants from South Oxfordshire District Council and the Esme Fairbairn Foundation and won many awards during the years, including best community store in the South-East in 2017.

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