Sproughton was without a shop or post office for some years. In 2006 a Parish Plan survey of all 550 households in the village was carried out. Amongst other desirable projects and improvements to amenities, an overwhelming number residents expressed a wish for a local shop. In addition, many said that they would volunteer to help in a community shop, if one existed. In 2007 the Parish Council set about applying for grants to convert the west store of the community-owned Tithe Barn from a redundant tractor garage into premises suitable for a small retail outlet. Not all the grant applications were successful but by the middle of 2009 sufficient funds had been obtained to carry out the conversion work. The main grant came from Suffolk County Council’s Corporate Regeneration Fund.
In December 2009 two residents formed themselves into a Community Interest Company (CIC) to lease the premises from the Parish Council and to run the shop for the benefit of the community. Two others joined them as co-Directors in this not-for-profit venture. In order to equip the shop and purchase the initial stock, the CIC obtained grants from Suffolk County Council’s Enterprising Communities Fund, a grant from the Locality Budget of County Councillor Kathy Pollard and donations from several Trusts and from private individuals. Advertisements were placed for part-time Managers, interviews held and two such managers were appointed at the end of February 2010.
The community shop opened for trading on Thursday 25th March 2010. On Saturday 27th March Lesley Dolphin from BBC Radio Suffolk came to Sproughton and announced the Official Opening in a live broadcast - (see photo on Events page). Below are two photos which show the old tractor garage before the conversion work.
How has our business been progressing since March 2010? The CIC found that it had made a significant loss in 2011 which, despite cost cutting and efficiency measures, it was unable to reverse. In 2012 the shop only made a profit of £23 (see accounts ). Consequently in 2013 the Directors were obliged to look at reducing the only remaining significant area of cost. Reluctantly it was decided to shed one of the two part-time Manager posts and the redundancy negotiations were finalised in September 2013. Currently (August 2016) the CIC has four volunteer Directors, one part-time Manager and 20 volunteer helpers. The CIC is most grateful to the volunteers who have willingly undertaken the inevitable extra duties that have arisen.
Outside and inside of the old tractor garage at the west end of the Tithe Barn, before conversion.