On May 29th 2017 the previous owners of Findon Village Store, shut the shop, and announced that they were putting the Grade 2 building up for sale at Auction on the 28th June. Any village shop is a lifeline to many villagers, and within 3 days of the closure a public meeting was called by the then Chairman of Findon Parish Council to discuss a response to what was a real calamity for the village. The Village Hall was packed to overflowing, and it was quickly decided to attempt a fundraising to buy the shop and premises back as a village asset.
On June 12th another public meeting was held to outline the manner and detail of fundraising. We knew that a minimum of £400,000 was needed before the Auction on June 30th, so it was a question of ‘Buy it or Lose it’. The self appointed Chairman of this new venture then contacted the Post Office to ensure that a new licence to operate the Post Office counter would be forthcoming, and that crucial issue was readily agreed.
Shares were offered to all residents at £1000/share, share commitment forms were rapidly printed and circulated throughout the village. The Plunkett Foundation had been contacted, who specialise in advising communities who wish to purchase village assets like shops and pubs, and gave valuable advice on registering a new company which is now named Findon Village Collective Ltd. This new company needed to be registered with the Financial Conduct Authority before the expected completion purchase date of 30th July, and that was achieved on 20th July..
Between June 12th and the auction on June 30th (18 days!) the villagers of Findon raised £440,000, and the premises were bought at auction for £350,000, leaving enough funds to re-equip the shop which had been totally stripped of all shelving and equipment by the previous owners. A further £40,000 was contributed before the completion date of July 30th. All the funds raised were lodged with Findon Parish Council, as until the new company opened a bank account, there was nowhere to keep this sizeable fund. As of this moment we have over 300 shareholders, who are proud to have helped ‘save the shop’!
Running the shop
A Management Committee was recruited during early July with the necessary skills to appoint staff, raise a Volunteer army, and put the new company on an organised and legal footing to start the process of refurbishing and re-equipping the shop.
The 5 shop staff and 52 volunteers have since July 30th worked tirelessly to completely refurbish and re-equip the shop, and we will have an initial opening on 28th October.
Community coming together
This story is one of a village community coming together, extraordinarily quickly, to save a valuable village asset, which in future will be operated for the benefit of the village. Should the shop make any surplus, over and above its statutory needs, then that surplus will be used for the benefit of organisations within the village that need financial help and support in the years to come.
Opening Ceremony – Sunday 3rd December
A full and proper celebration party once the shop is fully stocked and operating on Sunday 3rd December. The opening ceremony will take place at the shop at 2pm.
Findon Village store will reopen officially on Sunday 3rd Dec at 4.45pm, this is to coincide with the switching on of the village lights shortly after the shop opening.