Why a “community shop”? Community shops are sustainable, democratic forms of businesses that succeed where commercial ventures have failed. In a climate that sees around 400 commercial village shops close each year, community-owned shops not only represent a better form of business, they directly respond to some of the key challenges facing rural communities today like lack of services and isolation.
Today in the UK there are over 350 trading, and in the past 20 years only 15 have ever closed, giving the model a 95% long term survival rate – which compares extremely favourably with the average 5 year survival rate of small businesses in the UK, which is at around 47% (Office for National Statistics).
Community ownership is based on a co-operative structure, meaning that members are the owners, buying shares in the business and having active involvement in its direction and day to day running. But its real selling point is in its democratic nature – it works on a one member, one vote basis (rather than one share, one vote) meaning that whatever amount you put in – £20 or £6,000 – you have an equal voice. This means everyone in the community can be involved. It also differs in that the profits are either reinvested into the shop or into another community project, not given to shareholders as a dividend. Instead, the shares keep their original value and can earn interest.