Villagers at Broadwindsor were in the mood for celebrating on Saturday when they officially opened their new community stores in the old telephone exchange.
And it was a special day for village school pupil Ellie Guppy, who won a poster competition to promote the opening. Not only did she cut the ribbon, it was also her ninth birthday.
Afterwards, they all went back to the school for refreshments and a slice of cake given by Fancy That Cakes of Beaminster, which bore the words ‘We Did It!’.
Fraser Hughes, chairman of Broadwindsor and District Community Enterprise, told the crowd: “The shop has drawn generous compliments from customers, who are not just from Broadwindsor, but all the local villages and further afield. Our fame is spreading. In fact they tell us they love it.
“Many customers have been amazed at how big the shop is when they get inside and how many lines we stock – over 1,000 already with more lines and services to come.
“We are good supporters of local firms and producers and aim to eventually have 30% of our products from suppliers within 30 miles of Broadwindsor.
“We have done what we said we would do, open a shop for the community. I think all the committee feel immensely proud of what we have achieved. And we have given the shop a real chance of success, with no loans or mortgages to pay back.
“It is now down to the community to support it. I think they will.”
The community stores are popular with customers, who have been without a shop since the one in the square closed 18 months ago.
Megan Jones, who is a volunteer as well as a customer, said: “It’s wonderful to have a shop in the village again. There is no need to get in the car, we have all our daily needs right here in Broadwindsor. The fresh bread and vegetables are especially welcome.”
Mr Hughes paid tribute all those who had been involved in bringing the project to fruition.
He said: “This is definitely a day of celebration and a day to thank all those who have brought it about.”
Shop manager Sue Williams, who is assisted by Jane Sloman and a team of local volunteers, said: “Since coming to Broadwindsor after many years trading in Lyme, I’ve been impressed by the commitment of everyone I’ve met to making the community shop a success.
“The volunteer staff are doing a great job and the committee is tireless in its efforts.
“We are stocking as much local produce we can as well as giving value for money to local people. Our fruit and veg comes into the shop daily as does the bread from Evershot bakery.
“We have a full range of dairy products and frozen food as well as dried goods which carry our label.”
Fantastic! That’s the verdict on the new community stores which opened in Broadwindsor today.
Bunting was waving and the Dorset flag was flying as customers were greeted with shelves bulging with produce at the old telephone exchange in Drimpton Road.
There’s a good range of local produce for sale, as well as everyday items. Orders are being taken for fresh meat and fish and the shop has a coffee machine (with real beans!) so early birds can call in to pick up a sandwich and a coffee en route to work.
The shop is managed by Sue Williams and her assistant Jane Sloman and around 40 volunteers from the community. The shop hopes to offer to make up welcome hampers for holiday cottages, a dry cleaning service and prescription collection.