Q&A – Ide Community Shop

Thank you for taking the time to read our first blog in our series
‘The Heart of our Company’
Every month we will be doing a Q&A with one of our Customers or Suppliers from all across the South West, if you are reading this and would like to get involved just drop us an email to info@iscafoods.co.uk or message us on facebook. We are very much open to other ideas for this Blog series too.

Thank you to Ide Community Shop who are the first of our Loyal Customers to take part in our Question & Answer blog.


Q: Can you tell us abit about Ide Community Shop and how long it has been running? 

A: Ide Community Shop was started by local people in 2009 when the previous shop closed due to the ill health of the owners.  It moved to its purpose-built premises in 2013 and is still staffed and run by volunteers.

Q: What do you like the most and least about working in the food industry?

A: As we are a community shop the best bit is being of service to the villagers and getting to know them personally and going over and above the normal service of service a standard shop can offer and helping them out in various ways and looking out for the older members and checking they are ok if they have not been in etc

Q: If you were putting together a Cheese board what would be your top 3 Cheeses?

A: Somerset Brie, Barnstormer Cheddar and Cornish Yarg

Q: Have you seen an increase in people shopping locally since the Pandemic?

A: Definitely – people are coming in a lot more as we are smaller and limiting number in the shop at one time, so they feel safer and because they just do not want to go into town with more people around.  Also, as more people are home working and home schooling they are coming in as not travelling to work or school etc

Q: How long have you been a Customer of Isca?

A: 10 Years plus

Q: What are some of your best-selling products? Have these changed during the past year?

Bacon, cheese, crisps, eggs, milk & wine

A: Sales have gone up across the board on most lines – a lot more alcohol has sold during lockdown as people have to drink at home.  Chocolate and crisps sales have also increased as people treat themselves more as a result of having to stay in.  Also, more lunchtime type foods are selling as again people eat at home and feed their children more at home rather than them having school dinners.

Q: Is there anything we don’t sell currently that you’d like to see available?

We get everything we need of you and think you carry a great range – we especially like all the local products as we try and buy as much local and support local producers and suppliers much as we can.  This has always been our policy since the start

Q: When Covid has decided to leave us alone and we can finally start to do fun things again, what is the first thing you are going to do/ or have booked already?

Definitely to have time with friends and family – I have so missed seeing people especially the older relatives during this time

Q: Where is your favourite place to eat locally?

A: Hard to say as we have so many great local places around us – the two pubs in the village by the shop, The Huntsman Inn, and The Poachers Inn both are great places to eat with brilliant atmospheres and have fantastic landlords and again are a huge part of village life.  Further afield the London Inn at Morchard Bishop is great with an exceptional landlord in Vera and they offer fantastic home cooked food in huge portions.

Q: As a very valued Customer is there anything we can do better to improve the service you are receiving from us?

A: Isca offer great service and great customer care skills on every level – no improvement necessary
(just to confirm there was no free cheese given from Isca as a bribe for this answer!)  

 

 

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Shop Local: Community Shops

Community shops have been on the rise for a number of years; in 1994 there were just 27 registered community shops while in 2016 this number had risen to 348. Community shops are owned and funded by the local community often in rural areas without access to other means of provision. These shops are able to compete with their bigger, nationwide counterparts by focusing on maintaining a loyal customer base, staffing their shops with a mostly volunteer workforce and often providing other community activities including workshops, craft schemes and cafe facilities. Here we explore a few of our local community shops and the work that they do.

ide commIde Community Shop was opened in 2013 following the closure of the village post office. A temporary shop was housed in a portable cabin but after a fundraising effort by local residents, permanent premises were purchased and today the shop is a thriving business. Staffed by 50 volunteers the shop sells a range of locally sourced produce including artisan cheeses, Chunk of Devon pies and pasties and a variety of sliced meats as well as locally made cakes, chocolates and ice creams. Following growing awareness to the dangers of single use plastics the shop has committed to reducing its own plastic waste and in an innovative move  now stock reusable cotton bags made by local residents. These pretty, colourful bags make a refreshing change to flimsy plastic bags and can be used again and again.

Cheriton Fitzpaine Community Shop has similar origins to those just described; in 2016 the owners of the village shop and post office retired and the shop had to close. Local residents became concerned that the loss of the shop as a community hub would be keenly felt and a small group began researching the idea of re-opening. In May 2017 that idea was realised. The community shop is currently housed in a temporary building adjacent to the Methodist Chapel while the cheriton fitznecessary planning permissions and building work continue for permanent premises. The management team focuses on providing the best produce possible for their customers sourced from local producers including bacon, sausages, pies, pasties and savouries, cheese, dips and olives, chocolates, jams and chutneys as well as everyday staples such as bread, eggs and milk. Run by a small army of volunteers the Cheriton Fitzpaine Community Shop has also become a local hub promoting locally run events, displaying public notices and functioning as a place for people to meet.

Otterton’s last convenience shop closed its doors in 2004 despite efforts to try and save it by the local community. In the intervening years residents began canvassing opinion from local residents as to whether to open a community run shop. Over a three year period this group of volunteers hosted fundraising events, scouted for premises and finally obtained planning permission to refurbish the snooker hall and the current otterton commcommunity shop opened in 2014. Staffed by a majority of volunteers the shops mission is to cater to the needs of local people, providing not only everyday staples such as milk, bread and cereal but also locally sourced meat, fish, pies and pasties, wine, beer and liqueurs and frozen, high quality ready meals. The shop is able to compete with its larger, national counterparts by competitive pricing and a focus on local produce.

These three community shops are linked by their stringent sense and love of community; each is run by a group of volunteers willing to give up their time and expertise to the project and provide the best service possible to their local residents. In an era filled with convenience deliveries and big business, we are happy to see these small, local focused shops succeed and wish them all the best of luck for the coming year.

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