Manager Andy Giles Phone: 01643 841582
The benefits of having a shop in our community are numerous and important. The village shop acts as an informal social centre; it’s a place to meet neighbours and to catch up on village news and issues. The Village Shop is often the only social meeting point for some residents, and for many elderly people this can be the only opportunity to meet up with other residents of the village.
It is also a place to advertise jobs, items for sale and wanted, read about local events and to buy tickets. It can be a drop-off and collection point for parcels. It is an important information point for delivery drivers, visitors, health workers and house hunters. It’s also a safe place for children to learn how to shop.
The shop also offers a Post Office service, together with an enormous range of goods and services, such as an off-licence section, fresh bread and pastries, chilled and frozen products, general groceries, newspapers, magazines and stationery, exclusive cakes from Dulverton, fresh sausages and bacon from Kendle Farm, Dulverton. Local produce is also stocked, providing an outlet for local producers. Our Village Shop is a tremendous facility for such a small village!
- Mon-Sat. 8.00 am – 1.00pm
- Sun 9.00am – 11.00am
Post office not open on Fridays.
- MEDICATION: We are the distribution agent for the Dunster Surgery and you can collect your medication from the Village Shop.
- BOOK EXCHANGE: We have several hundred books for purchase at approximately 80p each. There is a refund if you return the book in exchange for another
- HONEY: Local honey available, made in Wootton Courtenay
- LAUNDRY AND DRY CLEANING: We are the agents for Dulverton Laundry. Garments are collected and delivered on a Thursday morning.
- LYNTON CINEMA: Their current programme is advertised on the shop door.
- EXMOOR INFORMATION: We keep a selection of local walks, maps and information provided by the Exmoor Tourist Information. Most of this is free
Improvements to the shop
New Post Office counter and computer equipment. Andy our brilliant shopkeeper has made some substantial improvements to the shop. Early in the year, he obtained a large grant from the Post office to move and upgrade the village post office. The post office counter has been updated and moved into the main shop and rewiring has taken place to accommodate a new and improved computer system.The new counter with its attractive design has improved the look and ambience of the shop and means that it is easier for customers to use the post office and shop at the same time.
Skye’s Bar The second project has involved many members of the village in offering practical and financial support. Following a money raising lunch which raised £1,080, the old post office and storage area has been expertly converted into a village room with a coffee area and licensed bar. In memory of Andy’s beautiful dog Skye, we have called the new area Skye’s Bar. Andy’s networking skills have been used to the full! He has gained the support of many villagers who have contributed their building and decorating skills to make an attractive and comfortable area for the use of the village. The coffee bar will be available during shop hours and on request. The licensed bar will be open for one or two evenings per week. Opening hours for both the coffee bar and licensed bar will be adjusted according to village wishes and practical experience. The picture below shows many of the contributors to the construction of Skye’s Bar enjoying a celebration evening at the end of June.
Both these projects will ensure that the shop remains an essential village amenity and a cohesive and friendly meeting point for villagers. Our village shop is essential and we are determined to ensure that it remains an important part of our village. Our grateful thanks are due to Andy for his enthusiasm and commitment to the shop and village.
Enjoying the new bar
Wootton Courtenay Villagers’ Stores Ltd.
Registered Company Number 02571795
Why do we have a company?
The freehold of the village shop is owned by a non profit making village owned company whose sole purpose is to provide a vibrant general stores within our village and to ensure that the property is well maintained on behalf of the village.
The company was formed in 1991 in order to raise money to purchase the freehold of the existing village shop and living accommodation. The money was raised by the issue of debentures with attached shares. Shareholders understand that they will receive no dividends and that their shareholding has no value unless they can find a village purchaser. The sole reason for owning shares is to provide a shop in our village.
From time to time, shares do become available for sale. If you are interested, please contact the Secretary or Chairman.
The shop was quickly purchased by the company on behalf of the village and, since that time, the company has leased the property to tenants on a very low ‘peppercorn’ rent on the understanding that they run the village shop. The low rent means that running costs are lower and a small but satisfactory living can be made from the shop.
The income from the rental is used to pay annual landlords’ running costs, maintenance and improvements, and to maintain a small capital reserve for a ‘rainy day’. Any further income is ploughed back into the running of the shop by giving our tenants, ‘rent holidays’ especially during the winter months when trade can be slower.
The company is managed by an annually elected Chairman, Secretary and Board of Directors. An Annual General Meeting, to which all shareholders are invited, is held in August each year. During this meeting the Chairman and Secretary present annual reports, the annual accounts are presented, a new committee is elected and there is an opportunity for shareholders to share ideas for the development of the shop.
THE ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING FOR 2021
The Company Directors
Eddie Bishop (Chairman), Peter Clapham (Secretary), Lesley Roake, , Margaret Smith, Paddy Parnell and Stan Moore, The Directors recommend the appointment of Mr Stan Moore as Director from 14th July, 2020 subject to ratification at the next AGM.
Secretary’s Report for 2020/21
I am pleased to report that Villagers’ Stores has had a very successful year in spite of the Covid-19 restrictions which have existed throughout. The periods of severe lockdown and the inability and reluctance to travel far have meant that more villagers have been using and relying on the shop. Andy, our tenant, has worked hard to provide a wider stock, a safe environment and a happy and caring atmosphere.
During the early severe lockdown, Andy, with the help of floor tape and clear notices, arranged a one way system through the shop with hand sanitiser available at the entrance. Only two people were encouraged in at one time. To help many of the more elderly villagers who were ‘locking down’ at home, the shop has offered a home ordering and delivery service which was operated by a team of willing and enthusiastic village volunteers. This service was particularly helpful to people living on their own and, as well as providing groceries, offered important reassurance and friendly contact at a very difficult and potentially lonely time. The shop has continued to offer help and support when needed. Grateful thanks are due to Andy and all the volunteers who, at some personal risk, helped so many people.
During the latter part of the year, we have welcomed a number of new villagers into Wootton Courtenay and the attractive shop and welcoming atmosphere has impressed them all. To quote from one new resident, “ How can such a small village in the heart of Exmoor manage to run such a successful shop? Our last village in the Home Counties, several times the size, didn’t have one!”
Sadly, the pandemic meant that the new bar and coffee shop area, which had been designed and built by Andy and a team of villagers, had to close in the interest of safety. This was particularly disappointing, having been opened for such a short time. I am pleased to report that at the time of writing, the bar garden is now open on Friday and Saturday evenings and has rapidly become a popular social hub with large attendances. We hope that the bar area inside the shop will open as soon as it is safe to do so.
Our company finances are sound. As you know, our main purpose is to ensure that we have a good shop in the village and that we maintain the shareholders investment in good condition rather than make a huge profit. Our capital reached £10,464 in January 2020 and, at the time of writing, stands at £11,700.
During the financial year we had a major water leak in the flat which damaged the kitchen ceiling and floor. Our insurance paid for a new ceiling and replacement floor coverings. The building is in a good general state of repair and we have a planned maintenance schedule which includes repairs to the shop window during 2021 and a full decoration of the front of the building in 2022.
On a personal note, failing eyesight has made the job of secretary virtually impossible and highly stressful. I gave 12 months notice to the Board of Directors in July 2020 that I would have to retire in August 2021. I am pleased to say that the Directors are recommending that Mrs Ruth Walker should replace me and, if this is agreed at the AGM, I will ensure that a smooth transfer takes place.
The shop continues to serve our village effectively and with your support will continue to do so for many years to come. Thank you, as always, for your support.
Honorary Company Secretary
Income and Expenditure 1st February, 2020 to 31st January, 2021
Attached below is an explanation of all income and expenditure during the financial year. Click link below.
Formal Company Accounts for 2020 to 2021