As part of our series of retailer profiles, this month we spoke to Mandy Jones, store manager at the community shop in Hampstead Norreys.
Hampstead Norreys is a Berkshire village with a population of just more than 800 people and when a parish survey was carried out some ten years ago, it became evident that there was a real desire for a convenience store in the village. The previous village shop had closed in the 1990s and for a while it was converted into a Post Office that opened once a week, but this closed too in 2008.
It was clear that the villagers wanted a more permanent solution and so a group of residents got together to turn this desire into reality. Following the award of a grant from the Plunkett Group, the residents got their wish and Hampstead Norreys Community Shop was opened in 2011.
A ‘not-for-profit business’, the store is situated in a picturesque brick and wood building that was purpose-built to house the shop, in what was previously a derelict farm yard.
Last year, the shop extended the premises and opened a café, offering breakfasts, lunches and what have become extremely popular home-made cakes.
“The café has definitely attracted more customers,” says Mandy. “When people pop in for a coffee, they also take time to browse in the shop and pick-up an item or two.”
As you would expect from a village convenience store, Hampstead Norreys Community Shop stocks a wide range of everyday staples including bread, eggs and newspapers.
These staple products are complemented by a wide range of local and artisan products that offer visitors something different. This is particularly true in the shop’s large chilled section where artisan products such as cheeses, meats and yoghurts sit alongside the everyday favourite, milk.
“Seasonal products are important to us too,” says Mandy. “To ensure that our customers can easily spot them, we have an eye-catching display at the front of the shop that we change every couple of weeks. We also use chalk boards outside to entice people to come inside to view our seasonal offerings.”
In addition to a small number of key paid staff, more than 40 volunteers, aged between 18 and 80, help out in the shop. Some have a regular weekly shift and others commit to a few hours a month.
“The store wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for our volunteers,” says Mandy. “In addition to the crucial work in the shop and café, they all massively contribute to the fantastic friendly community environment that customers notice immediately when they step inside.”
As a chilled food wholesaler Cotswold Fayre is delighted to supply Hampstead Norreys Community Shop with a wide range of chilled products including Rodda’s Clotted Cream, Shaken Udder Milkshake, Dan Hull Pate and Me Too! Original & Beetroot Houmous.