A village shop that has been closed for more than 10 years will be refurbished to make way for a community‐run store, thanks to financial assistance from The Co‐operative Loan Fund.
Semley Village Stores in Wiltshire is set to open on Monday 23 April, which is also St. George’s Day.
The shop is currently undergoing a major refurbishment. The ceiling, flooring and new electric wiring is expected to be completed by the end of March and the chillers and shelving which have been ordered will be installed by 15 April.
A meeting held last year attracted about 50 local villagers who all agreed that the old shop, which closed in 2001, should be re‐opened as a community co‐operative.
Following the meeting the shop building was bought by a local benefactor and generously gifted to the local community, in order to serve as a shop once again.
Two surveys carried out showed that that 92% of the local village who responded would use the shop weekly and that parents of school children would be very supportive of a village shop offering healthy snacks.
The new shop will feature a storage and office space on the second floor and a full retail area on the ground floor. There will also be space for a sitting area which will be served by a coffee machine, and the remaining space will be let out.
Mark Butler, secretary of Semley Village Stores, said: “There has always been talk of the shop re‐opening, and with the swell of support we have received we know that the new shop will be a great success. Most importantly it will provide a social hub once again for our community.”
Semley Village Stores co‐operative currently has 92 members and more than 50 people have showed an interest in helping run the store. An experienced manager has been recruited and several local producers are keen to sell their produce through the shop.
Ian Rothwell of The Co‐operative Loan Fund said: “I am pleased to be able to support this skilled and capable group. It will be great to see a village shop brought back to the heart of Semley which will inevitably bring cohesion to the local community.”