Oxfordshire village adds to trend in community ownership

Residents from a village near Abingdon, Oxfordshire, are breathing new life into an old building, by fitting it out for a community‐owned shop which will open next month.

The last shop in the village closed three years ago, and the building has stood empty since then. The landlord has leased the building to the The Marcham Village Shop free of charge for the first year, allowing them to concentrate the funds they have received from The Co‐operative Loan Fund on the renovation and refitting of the building, and buying stock.

The Marcham Village Shop will stock a selection of locally sourced food including fruit, vegetables, milk and wine. There will be a small cafe area, which will serve tea and coffee along with locally produced cakes and pies. The co‐operative has applied to take over running of the Post Office, which will allow for longer opening hours at the request of many of the villagers.

Marcham locals currently operate a community minibus scheme, where they assist their elderly neighbours in getting to and from the nearest supermarket which is over two miles away. The new shop aims to serve this less mobile group of residents, making it easier for them to shop closer to home. The new shop will have long opening hours (between 7:30am and 6pm) at the request of local school children who would like to visit before school starts, and residents who will drop in on their way home from work.

Christine Ricketts, one of the The Marcham Village Shop board members, said: “Marcham has not had a shop in over three years, which we all miss as it is difficult to reach our nearest supermarket. Everyone is very excited for the opening next month.

“Without the funding we have received, the whole process would have taken much longer, and we would not have been able to fit the shop to the good standard we can now.”

The finance from the Co‐operative Loan Fund supplements the money raised by 106 villagers in a community share issue, along with support from The Plunkett Foundation.

Ian Rothwell, of The Co‐operative Loan Fund, said: “Marcham is a big village with an immense amount of community spirit. The shop is well located right in the middle of the village and should do incredibly well.”

Marcham is another example to add to the ever growing number of community shops in the UK, exemplifying how popular the community ownership model has become in recent years. There are currently 277 community owned shops in the UK.