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Saving a Local Shop

Posted By Ester Venouziou, Thursday, January 3, 2013
Updated: Thursday, January 3, 2013

Itteringham is a picturesque village in Norfolk, with just over 3 miles and 60 or so homes. And in this pretty little town there's a pretty little historic shop that offers local produce and plants, cakes and pies, wines and groceries.

The market, opened in the 1630s, is one of the oldest stores in Britain.In recent years big supermarket chains started to open up in nearby towns, and, as often is the case, that made it tough for the little shop to survive.

But then something happened.The villagers took over the shop.

A Yahoo News story tells the story:

In 1994, Itteringham residents rallied in support of their pretty little historic shop. They got together and raised just over $8,000 to keep the shop from closing after its owner died.

Then, one by one, local residents came by and offered to help stack shelves, deliver orders, mop the floors. These days, 50 of the town's 120 residents work for free in the shop, Yahoo reports. The free labor saves the shop about $570/week, allowing it to break even and stay open.

"It is such a closely knit village," shop manager Mike Hemsley, 55, tells Yahoo News. "We are all friends."


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Itteringham's village shop is one of almost 300 community shops across Britain, according to the Plunkett Foundation, which promotes community-owned enterprises, co-operatives and social enterprises to rural communities through events, partner networks and high profile press and media campaigns.

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Could something like this happen here? Comparing the Tampa Bay region and our 4.2 million residents with the small town of Itteringham and its 120 villagers might not seem fair.
But what if we all took a little more ownership in our communities, what if we all started caring a little more? If 120 people can save a shop, imagine what 4.2 million could do ...

Ester Venouziou, founder of LocalShops1, is available for freelance projects: writing, editing, design or social media. She can be reached at or 727.637.5586.

Tags:  coffee shop st. petersburg  community ownership  co-op 

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