Abbotts Ann Village Shop Association will benefit from new shelving and stock ordering system thanks to a £5,951 grant from Hampshire County Council.
The County Council’s Village Shop Grant Scheme offers grants to improve village shops to expand their business or create new community led village stores.
Abbotts Ann Village Shop Association (AAVSA) will put the grant towards the cost of fixtures and fittings, a new Electronic Point of Sale Scanning System (EPOS), more economical chillers and freezers, a new sink, taps, oven and fan. It is hoped these improvements will enable the shop’s management committee, staff and volunteers to realise sustainable sales in excess of £240,000 per year. The total cost of the changes they wish to make is £13,730. Abbotts Ann Parish Council has contributed £1,600 towards the cost of the project and Test Valley Borough Council have awarded £6,148 in funding.
A total of 30 grants have been awarded to villages in Hampshire since the County Council’s Village Shop Grant Scheme was launched in 2008. Hampshire County Council has so far invested £400,000 into the scheme, which has levered or attracted match funding of a further £500,000.
Abbotts Ann Village Shop and Post Office, near Andover, is an award winning community shop and was built on the site of a former barn in 2002. It is the only shop in the parish and is based in the centre of the village. In 2007 AAVSA was runner up in the national Best Rural Retailer Competition sponsored by the Countryside Alliance and The Daily Telegraph. The year before AAVSA won the regional final for the award.
The shop’s management committee employs a full time shop manager, a part time assistant manager and there is a team of 44 regular volunteers, all local residents, who contribute to making the store a welcoming place to be.
The shop sells a wide range of products and supports local producers wherever possible. It is well supported by villagers from Abbotts Ann, Little Ann, Amport and Monxton. It also attracts passing trade from workers at the nearby Army headquarters and parents of children attending the nursery and primary schools.
Shop manager Georgina Garner, said: “This grant will help us to improve our catering and kitchen facilities, so we can invest in a coffee machine and continue to support local suppliers. We need to keep up with the times and we were in desperate need of a new EPOS system, so this money will totally change how we do our ordering, it will make it much quicker and easier. We like to support our local suppliers and they support us and Hampshire County Council are fantastic at facilitating that, which in turn helps the local economy.
“For the elderly in the community it is lovely for them to come and stock up their larder without having to go all the way into town. It is a life line for them and somewhere they can come and have a chat and a coffee, as they might not see anyone else all day. Also mums come in for a coffee after dropping the kids off at school.
“I don’t think we could do without our lovely volunteers, they are vital to the business. Their ongoing support brings everyone in the village together. Everyone in the village knows each other and it is the shop and the pub at the heart of the community.”
Councillor Andrew Gibson, Hampshire County Council’s Executive Assistant to the Leader and Rural Portfolio Holder, said: “Village shops play an integral part in the vitality and vibrancy of a village community and are often a lifeline for the vulnerable and elderly members of a village. We have been working with village shops in Hampshire to help increase footfall and ensure sustainability through the Hampshire Village Shops Grant Scheme.”
The Hampshire Village Shops Grant Scheme is targeted primarily at villages with fewer than 5,000 residents which either have no shop or just one shop in their community. Applications are welcome from community associations, village shop associations, parish and district councils as well as formal voluntary associations. Private businesses are eligible to apply if they have the written support from their parish council.
For more information about the Village Shops Grant Scheme, please contact Anne Harrison at Hampshire County Council on 01962 846558 or visit: http://www3.hants.gov.uk/business/rural-initiatives/villagegrant.htm and http://www3.hants.gov.uk/grants/environment-grants/village-shops-grants.htm