At Nextdoor, we know that when local businesses thrive, our communities thrive. It’s important for us to continue to find ways to support local businesses so this year we created a new award, especially for local businesses. We were looking for owners who were fostering community connections and building an impactful local business. This year’s winner is the Rattlesden & District Community Shop in rural Suffolk. We chatted to the Chair, Camilla Keeling, who volunteers every week.
How did the shop become community-owned?
“When the last local village shop closed 25 years ago the villagers decided they wanted a community-owned shop where the profits could be put back into the community. They put their stakes together and created the shop that is still here today. The shop is entirely run by volunteers and we’re open seven days a week. To ensure things run smoothly, we have a committee of six people who meet once bi-monthly and a rota for the volunteers.”
“One of my favourite jobs as Chair is organising the rota, I call people for help and I’m always met with incredible commitment and a positive attitude – people are so willing to volunteer their time.”
Where does the stock come from?
“We have some fantastic local producers who make all sorts of things including quiches, pork pies, apple juice, local honey, local rapeseed oil and local bread. We also have fresh seasonal fruit such as strawberries, blueberries and raspberries. Customers can order meat from the local butcher who delivers it straight to the shop, it’s very convenient for them. We even have newspapers thanks to a relationship with the newsagents nearby. There’s a very generous spirit here.”
How did you manage during the pandemic?
“We all pulled together, we knew we needed to keep the shop open for our local residents so we just did what was needed.”
“We never ran out of flour as the local bakery provided us with sacks of it and as I still had a licensed kitchen from being a caterer, I weighed up the flour and put it into smaller bags for selling in the shop. I was in the most shielding category and wasn’t able to go into the shop, our Treasurer, Sue Thomas, did a huge amount of takeover work, she was absolutely fantastic – she also runs the village hall!”
“We are also incredibly lucky to have a post office in the shop which has been continuously run by Judy Angus since we opened.”
In what ways do you give back to the community?
“We redirect our profits back into the business and offer up grants. Any village organisation can put forward an application for surplus profits. The local school asked for money for a new library to help them support the growing local population.”
“We also host a couple of pop-ups that park outside the shop; Coffee Caravan and Refills Direct. This provides customers with additional options as well as a meeting point which helps to build community.”
How do you use Nextdoor? How has it helped your local business?
“Nextdoor is a great way to stay in touch with our local customers. Our volunteers post on Nextdoor to alert residents to shop developments or new products on the shelves.”
“Someone in another village was raising donations for Afghan refugees so we posted on Nextdoor that residents could deliver donations to the shop – we had eight carloads full for Sudbury Refugee Hub for Afghan refugees!”
How does it feel to win the Nextdoor Good Neighbourhood Award for Local Business of the Year?
“Fantastic! It’s a lovely feeling to know that the village recognises our service and that all the effort has paid off!”
Do you own a local business? Nextdoor has dedicated pages free for local businesses to tap into their neighbourhood and reach local cutsomers. Find out more here.