A COMMUNITY is rallying round to support a couple who have come out of retirement to keep a village shop going.
Ron and Penny Hints have bought back Tilston Village Shop from Penny’s daughter to continue at least until the end of the year.
Otherwise the shop, which lost its post office earlier this year due to the national closure programme, would have closed on June 14 due to dwindling usage.
A newsletter, signed “concerned residents of Tilston” and supported by the Hints family, has been circulated around Tilston urging everyone to support the “valuable village amenity”.
Members of the community have assembled a team of volunteers to serve in the shop. And villagers are asked to buy goods on a regular basis, no matter how small the purchase. Suggestions on how to improve the shop are also sought.
It is hoped the Hints will be able to sell the business as a going concern. If not, plans are afoot to run the shop as a cooperative.
The letter states: “We are aware that Ron and Penny do not intend that this should be a long-term solution but are willing to run the shop for the time-being and will review the situation at the end of the year.
“With the help and support of all of us, they hope to stabilise and rebuild the shop so that it becomes an attractive proposition for someone else to take forward. If this does not prove to be possible, then either the shop will have to close, or a village co-operative formed to take it over.
“This may well be the last chance we have to retain a very valuable village amenity and we are urging everyone to play their part to keep the shop going.
“Ron and Penny realise that the shop cannot compete with the supermarkets on price and choice, but they are confident they can keep prices competitive.”
The shop will continue to provide basic groceries, chilled and frozen foods, newspapers, wines, confectionery and cigarettes. The business will also be part of Sainsbury’s SAVE scheme (Sainsbury’s Assist Village Enterprise) meaning a selection of Sainsbury’s products will be available.
The letter from residents concludes: “With the rising cost of fuel and fares, a facility like this, on our doorsteps, is immeasurably valuable – but we must play our part and support it. We either use it or we lose it.”
Shop owner Ron Hints, 61, said: “We don’t intend to do more than a year. By Christmas we will know if it is a viable concern or not.
“If it is, hopefully we can sell it to somebody else, if not then other people in the village are looking at the possibility of a village cooperative, behind-the-scenes, to try and save it in the long-run.”
Mr Hints said he and his wife had stepped in to keep the business going in the short-run “because once it’s closed it would be very difficult to reopen it”.