To purchase the Weston Pantry Shop and Post Office, bring it into community ownership and secure its long term future as a community asset.
by Sam Sharp in Bicester, Oxfordshire, United Kingdom
Weston SOS Limited is on a mission to preserve a cornerstone of our community, the Weston Pantry Shop and Post Office, by bringing it into community ownership. We need your support to achieve this crucial goal.
Our journey began in February 2023, following concerns that the shop's future was in jeopardy as the current owner wished to retire as the sub-postmistress after successfully running it for six years. We took action, forming a committee and incorporating Weston SOS Limited as a Community Benefit Society.
Our progress is noteworthy. We've become members of the Plunkett Foundation, received pre-application support, and applied for a significant £250,000 grant from the Community Ownership Fund. We're working hard to secure the shop's future.
The Weston SOS committee is made up of members of the local community who all share a common goal - to maintain the Shop and Post Office within Weston-on-the-Green. Some of us haven't been in the village for very long, others have families that have lived in the village for generations and have seen the Shop go through many different owners over the years.
But what makes this shop so vital to our community? It's not just a place to pick up your groceries; it's the heartbeat of Weston-on-the-Green and neighbouring villages like Bletchingdon, Chesterton, Kirtlington, Middleton Stoney, and more.
The shop offers a wide range of services, including post office services, newspapers, groceries, local produce, and even Amazon parcel pickup/drop-off. It's also a hub for fresh hot food, sandwiches, and coffee. But it's more than that. The shop fosters social connections, reduces isolation, and acts as a support lifeline for our elderly and vulnerable residents.
As high-street banks close, our shop fills the void by providing access to in-person services like banking, and it supports local businesses by stocking products from local suppliers. It reduces the carbon footprint with its local produce, offering environmental benefits. It's the go-to place for lost and found items, local tourism information, and a hub for the village's latest news and events.
Moreover, it's not just about what the shop provides; it's about what it gives back. The shop hosts a bi-monthly food bank organised by the Parish Council and supports the Village Hall and Church through the Friends Produce.
We believe that community ownership is the key to securing the long-term future of the Weston Pantry Shop and Post Office. We've conducted surveys and received strong community support, with 92% of respondents expressing satisfaction with the shop and 95% agreeing on its importance to our community.
We're launching a share offer from November 1, 2023, to December 13, 2023. This is your chance to make a difference. We're aiming to raise a minimum of £105,000, which we consider essential for a viable business plan. The more we can raise through community shares, the more we can give back to the community.
We have three scenarios based on how much we raise through community shares. If we reach our maximum target of £405,000, we won't need external financing. The more we raise through community shares, the less we pay in fees and interest to commercial banks, benefitting our community even more.
Your investment will not only support the shop but will also help our community thrive.
We're been awarded the Community Shares Standard Mark, ensuring transparency and accountability.
This share offer is an opportunity to buy shares in Weston SOS Limited. These shares cannot be sold or traded to someone else, but they can be withdrawn subject to our Society's rules. The primary goal is community benefit, rather than profit. Our financial modeling shows that we can pay interest on shares at rates up to 5%, benefitting our community.
It's important to note that the purchase of shares carries some risk, as the shop's success is not guaranteed. However, the liability of our members is limited to the amount they invest.
Your support is essential. Together, we can preserve the Weston Pantry Shop and Post Office, ensure its long-term viability, and create a stronger, more connected community. Visit our website at www.weston-sos.org to learn more and be part of this community-driven initiative.