Dear Parracombe Community Trust shareholder,
Well, we did it. The Parracombe Pavilion Shop and Café has hit the ground running and we’ve had a fantastic response from our hugely supportive customers.
What’s already clear is that everyone already sees the Pavilion as ‘their’ shop and café. Which, of course, it is. Every surplus penny we receive from sales will go back into making it even better.
Just as important we’ve seen how it has quickly become a thriving community hub; people popping in for a coffee and chat, exchanging news or just sitting out on the terrace in the sun.
None of this would have been possible without the backing of our incredible shareholders. So, thank you to all those who invested and for putting your faith in this project.
There’s still much to do and of course this is just the start, but, for the moment, here’s a quick run-down on how things have unfolded since we opened on May 12th.
Launch: We opted for a ‘soft launch’ so that our hard-working band of 34 volunteers could get up to speed. We also needed to get to grips with the point-of-sale system and fine-tune our stock-ordering. This is still on-going but things have gone more smoothly than we dared hope. A more formal ‘official’ opening event is planned for later in the year.
Although the launch was soft the publicity was anything but. We featured in an excellent TV teatime slot on BBC Spotlight on opening day, followed by a lengthy piece on BBC Radio Devon the following morning. Our shop team chair, Jo Harrison, led the way in both interviews, but customers also pitched in to help tell our story. Thanks to all of them for helping to get our name out there.
Sales: In short, sales are very encouraging and already exceeding expectations. It’s too early to predict for sure that we’ll hit our initial business targets but we’re quietly confident. The more local people and visitors hear about us, the easier it will be as we head through our first vital few months. So, please, do spread the word.
To Do List: It’s a never-ending list but, in the short term we have to….
Improve our signage: Our customers know it, we know it and delivery drivers would certainly appreciate it! As a first step, a blackboard sign is now up at the car park entrance and already casual passers-by have been lured in. We’ll be looking to create more permanent signage over the next few weeks.
Complete exterior decoration: The render you see isn’t the finished job. Painting parties will be assigned soon. We also need to complete the installation of outside lighting.
Increase stock lines: More stock is on order, with new products to increase variety and choice. We are working to introduce more seasonal meat from local producers.
Receive our alcohol licence: We expect this to come through in early June. Along with quality everyday beers, wines and spirits we’ll be stocking beers and spirits from local producers along with a selection of more specialist wines.
Price keenly: Everyone is affected by the current cost-of-living crisis and we’re aiming to keep grocery and household items at prices as keen as is reasonably possible. We’re price-matching when we can and customers seem particularly impressed with our provision of quality, freshly-ground coffee. Together with our delicious range of cakes and pasties our state-of-the-art coffee machine has helped make the café an instant hit – currently pulling in a third of all Pavilion takings!
Recruit more volunteers: We currently have 34 hard-working volunteers – what a superb team they are – and two managers working shifts. Together, our people cover opening hours of 8am-6pm Monday to Saturday and 9am-1pm on Sundays. That’s 128 hours of manager and volunteer hours per week, and a big call on everyone’s time, so more ‘regulars’ would be very welcome. We also need ‘floating’ volunteers to help with holiday cover.
Get Feedback: Your shop till assistant will have a suggestion book handy for any constructive feedback, good or bad, from customers. Don’t be shy – we won’t be hurt!
Local Arts and Crafts: Keep a look out for locally-made arts and crafts for sale in our shop. The Parracombe Art Club greetings cards proved popular, and have already sold out, but fear not, more stock is on the way!
Get our message across: We’ll continue to keep posting news, views, updates and photos on the Pavilion’s Facebook page and via our Twitter profile. We now have 182 likes on Facebook and 50 followers on Twitter, but we are always appreciative of anyone who can like, share and engage with our content to help spread the word. A dedicated Pavilion Shop and Café website is in design and will go live as soon as possible. We’ll also keep all our customers and stakeholders posted with emails and leaflet drops.
Plan further ahead: We’re continuing with our fundraising efforts for better outdoor furniture and planters and to improve landscaping. We’ll also be creating a Help-Yourself Herb Garden.
And finally…a reminder of how we got here. Over the last two years Parracombe Community Trust has raised a total of £165,000 to make the Pavilion Stores and Café a reality. Over £72,000 of this came from you, our shareholders, through a share offer with matched investment from the Co-Op Booster programme, which has offered support and business advice throughout. The Prince’s Trust Countryside Fund has also stepped up, providing a grant to meet the salaries of our two staff members, during the crucial first six months of trading. We also received grants from Exmoor Trust and the Parish Council for the solar PV and grants from North Devon and Devon County Councils for catering equipment.
If you are not a shareholder yet, but would like to get involved, click here to learn more about membership.
Chairman Dave Austin and your Shop Committee: Jo Harrison, Nick Backhouse, Brian Dallyn, Becky Young, Sally Bastock