Gartmore Community Shop
Gartmore is situated 25 miles north of Glasgow and 20 miles west of Stirling in the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, Scotland, and on the edge of the Queen Elizabeth Forest Park.
There has been a post office in Gartmore since 1826. There were several shops comprising two grocers, a baker, a tailor, a blacksmith, a joiner and a shoemaker. In addition there were various vans selling meat, fish and fruit that came every day in the week.
There is now only one shop in the village, which incorporates the Post Office. The shop is open from 8am-5pm Mon-Sat and 9am-1pm on Sundays. The Post Office operates between 9am and 1pm each weekday. The Gartmore Village Shop is a convenience store that sells groceries, home-baking, off-licence beverages, organic produce, newspapers and pharmaceutical products, as well as providing a video rental service and post-office facilities.
This long tradition of trading in Gartmore nearly ended in 1997 when the shop was put on the market. When no buyer came forward, planning permission was granted to allow the then owner to turn the shop back into a house. A meeting called at the end of October brought more than 100 concerned villagers together to discuss their ideas of how to save the shop. After this a committee was formed, and many hours of discussion later it was decided to ask residents to buy shares in what was now to be a Community Shop. There was impressive support and a substantial sum was raised.
It was realised that the shop was eligible for funding from the European Regional Development Fund Leader II and after a successful application sufficient grant money was received which, when added to the share capital, enabled the village to buy the shop. It began trading as a Community Shop on 8th January 1998. Gartmore Village Shop has a full-time manager, six part-time staff, four paperboys and a volunteer who works one day a week. The shop is supported by a voluntary management committee of 8 members.
Of the 250 adult villagers, 130 subsequently bought shares in a community co-operative.
CWS (Co-operative Wholesale Society) provided a loan enabling the purchase of stock whilst the Post Office provided advice. The community set up a Private Company Limited by guarantee, with a 10% cap on dividends if the shop showed an annual profit.
Initially there were minor problems running the shop as the community learnt on their feet. For example, there was a trade-off between opening times and cost effectiveness, what to stock in the shop versus wastage levels.
The area has a relatively broad demographic makeup and the shop is especially important for elderly and single parents within the community who may have restricted opportunity to access the nearest alternative shops. The Post Office is also essential for those receiving income support, benefits or pensions. Moreover, it serves as a pick-up point for doctor's prescriptions. The shop notice boards also serve as a valuable local information resource.
The shop has had made a small profit during each of the last 3 years and this year, for the first time, paid a dividend to shareholders for the first time. 5% of each member's shareholding is paid by means of a shop voucher - 130 villagers currently own a total of £31,000 worth of shares - between £25 & £2,000 each, that is, whatever each person could afford at the start.
The last loan was paid off this year and the shop and Post Office have expanded the available services every year, for example, this year opening hours were increased, a switch facility was installed and a community PC providing villagers with internet access. Moreover, the Post Office will soon be investing in a partial building refurbishment to improve the layout and structure of the shop and post services available
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