COMMUNITY SHOP AND POST OFFICE - HISTORY
This village is very pleased that in the days when many Post Offices are doomed, and village shops in decline, Berrynarbor not only has both, but also has built a new one!
It all started in June 2004 when the shop owner, wishing to retire, announced that he would close the shop on September 30th that year. The response was amazing. A committee was formed, circulars sent round the whole village offering shares in a “Berrynarbor Co-operative Society”, and in about 10 weeks, nearly £10,000 was raised to buy necessary stock.
The owner agreed to rent the shop for 4 years. If a new shop was in the making then this could be extended for a further year. The shop owner would then get planning permission to change the shop to residential accommodation. He could not have done this while it was the last shop in the village.
The “Berrynarbor Community Enterprise” (BCE) opened the shop the day after the owner closed. It had a paid manager and nearly 40 volunteers who agreed to work from 4 hours a week, fortnight, or month.
There was then an intense drive to obtain grants for building a new shop. North Devon District Council has been very supportive both with grants and by letting the BCE have space in the car park at a peppercorn rent. Devon Renaissance and the Plunkett Foundation also turned up trumps with grants, and these, together with a mortgage and further share buying means that BCE now has a lovely, new, purpose-built shop and Post Office 30% larger than the old one, in the FREE car park.
BCE is now operating very successfully with a shop manageress and a sub-postmistress both working 20 hours a week , but of course some 25 of the villagers still give half a day at a time working in the shop. The turnover in the new shop is nearly half as much again as in the old shop and everyone is delighted by it.
Everything is sold that would be expected to be found in a well-stocked village shop, including many locally produced goods. All this was only achieved through the enterprise and determination of the villagers of Berrynarbor to save the heart of their village.
The new shop was officially opened on Friday 29th August 2008 by Yvette Gubb, a North Devon councillor who has been particularly supportive all along. Members of the various grant givers, all shareholders and volunteers were invited. Wine, soft drinks and nibbles were available afterwards.