With the Strictly hopefuls about to strut their stuff, we in the shop, also intend to put our best foot forward as we shimmy and shake towards Christmas!
Since the last newsletter where we were hitting £3000 each week, the summer has seen an unexpected dip in sales compared with previous years. Worryingly, customer visits and sales per visit have declined to 2012 levels. However, the good news is that we have kept our costs under control and in July and August we posted healthy profits. We currently stand at £965 ahead for the year and with 4 months to run, we intend to maintain our performance and finish someway beyond our target of £1000. That would be no mean feat and thanks go to all the volunteers who take on extra duties, Jane who keeps an eagle eye on the rota and of course, our manager Bridgette who orders & promotes the stock ensures we maintain our margins and keeps the waste under control. As mentioned in previous newsletters, the competition is Omni-present and with the re-vamped Co-Op and work starting on a new Aldi supermarket in Chippy, we will have to work even harder to stay ahead of the game. For that reason, we will be surveying our customers during September and October including YOU!
The new fridge chiller by the front door has proven a winner in keeping vegetables, salads and fruits fresh and although we ‘missed the boat’ this year with the outside awning, this has now been sanctioned and we expect to have it installed for Easter 2016. At a recent management meeting, we also decided to give the front table a boost with monthly promotions. The first one for September will start on Saturday 12th. Come and check it out – you will find it has a very seasonal feel! We also want to start Christmas planning earlier this year and this will have a festive impact on the look and feel of the shop. We will be asking our preferred supplier, Wykham Farm, for an idea of turkey availability and prices. PLEASE BEAR US IN MIND AND ASK FOR A PRICE LIST BEFORE ORDERING ELSEWHERE!
September has been a really tricky month for the till rota team. Clearly it is a month where many of us ‘empty nesters’ fancy a late break before the dark nights kick in. Unfortunately, we have been caught on the back foot in not fully anticipating the shortages and we will learn from it! In addition to our customers, the other most important group that impacts on the sustainability of the shop are volunteers which is why you will find a (second) questionnaire attached to this newsletter. We want to know what it means to be a volunteer, how satisfied you are and how we can improve. You will have the option of returning to me or popping it into a confidential box in the shop. The management committee will carefully consider the responses and we will feed back the results and present them to you at the October get together.
News & Views
The Saturday Club - We will kick off Saturday 12th with members of the management committee playing a leading role. We intend to staff Saturdays with volunteers and this represents a cost saving of 3.5 hours each week or approximately £1300 pa. This vital saving will feed directly to the bottom line.
Each one bring one - A volunteers evening is planned at the Swan for Thursday October 29th from 7pm. As on previous volunteer occasions, we would like to offer everyone a free drink – a small thank you before we settle down for the evening. More information to follow. However, as there is never such a thing as a free drink, please bring someone with you who might be interested in becoming a volunteer, even if it’s a little way off.
Training - Kathy and Rosemary will be holding refresher sessions for till volunteers this winter. This is still at the planning stage and we hope to provide more information at the volunteers’ evening on the 29th.
Wykham Farm - We now have a small group of volunteers who collect fresh meat. It is still early days and as our customers get to know the product, we hope to increase sales by including dedicated orders with regular best sellers. A big thank you for everyone involved in providing this important service to the shop.
Car park - We have started seeking help with trimming the hedges and bushes adjacent to the car park. Our secretary, Sally has taken this on and we hope you will see some improvement this autumn – at the end of the growing season!
Maintenance - We do need help with shop maintenance – especially defrosting the freezers. If you can help, please contact Bridgette.
Annual stock-take - We have now set the date for the yearly stock-take; it is scheduled for Sunday January 3rd. Please ‘reserve’ in your 2016 diary – it’s one of the social events of the year!
Spotlight on a Volunteer - Paul Cunningham
This month’s nomination goes to Paul. Not only is he one of our most loyal customers, Paul is also the man who has designed, built and hosted the Community Website and the Shop Website. Paul is an IT professional who works on major UK and international projects and in his spare time, helps many of us in the village. It usually starts off with, “Paul, I have a problem … and it needs fixing today!” In his spare time he has numerous interests including cooking, wood turning and strumming his authentic Fender Stratocaster. Probably his greatest passion is the Ascott countryside and you will often see him walking his beloved Labradors. Paul, you have been a great help to the shop in advising and setting up our IT systems and we thank you for what you have done.
- John Cull; Chairman & communications
- Sally Jordan; Secretary
- Stuart Fox; Finance & staff contracts
- Mark Tribe; Volunteers & premises
- Bridgette Crundwell; Shop manager; including stock ordering, layout and pricing
Let’s all look forward to a thoroughly satisfying, exciting (and profitable!) few months ahead as we tango our way through 2015 and remember - KEEEEEP SHOPPING!!
John Cull, Chairman