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Triodos pays loan to help save Chalford Community Stores

After 18 months operating out of a church, Chalford Community Stores has finally secured its own premises

14-07-2014 | Chalford Community Stores, a volunteer run shop and post office in the tiny village of Chalford in the Frome Valley has been at the heart of community life for more than a decade.

Originally a commercial enterprise on the High Street, the shop was taken on by villagers in 2003 when the owner was forced to close down after struggling to make the business viable.

Run by a volunteer workforce, the store continued to be an important part of village life, but to ensure its future, the people of Chalford knew they had to do something more permanent.

So in 2009, Chalford Community Stores became co-operative and allowed customers to purchase shares in the business which raised enough to keep the shop going.

"Village life can be quite lonely and isolated, especially for the old and vulnerable," says Mike Roberts, chair of the Chalford Community Stores committee, "so it was vital for the good of the community that the village shop remain a place for people to not only buy their groceries, but also to socialise – for some it would be the only time they would see other people."

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“It is not just about the shop, but what it represents; a community that wants to work together to achieve something that will benefit everyone.”

Mike Roberts, chair of the Chalford Community Stores committee

But unfortunately, in January last year, Chalford Community Stores hit another hurdle; the lease on the building on the High Street ran out.

Mike continued, "We knew the lease was going to be running out and had been looking for another premises for a while. We had decided that The Advent Hall, also on the High Street, would be a good option, but we were unable to get a mortgage.

"Thankfully, Christ Church in the St Mary’s area of the village agreed to let us use the church building until we found a new permanent base."

Another share issue raised £52,000 and after securing a mortgage of £70,000 with Triodos bank Chalford Community Stores were able to purchase the Advent hall for £130,000. Grants from Chalford Parish Council and the Cotswold Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (CAONB) will allow the committee to refurbish the building.

Mike said: "The building is in quite a good state, so although there isn’t too much to do, we will be using the grant money to replace the windows, floor surface and generally refresh the interior of the building before opening next month.

"Chalford Community Stores really is the hub of the village. It is not just about the shop, but what it represents; a community that wants to work together to achieve something that will benefit everyone. And with so many customers having become shareholders – there are 250 in total – it is in everyone’s interest that this project is a success."

Chalford Community Stores currently has around 40 volunteers, but only around half of those are able to provide regular help. The committee hopes the new base will attract more customers and volunteers so they are able to open for longer hours and reinstate the Post office.

Chalford Community Stores will open for business at its new premises on Saturday, July 19

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