Our resources! The Buy Back

Glandwr, tiny village shop, to be bought back

EVENT 26 JAN in Cardigan

Event! Sat 26th 2 to 5pm in Castle Cafe and Cellar Bar, Cardigan. Nine social enterprises come together to tell their tale and discuss barriers, hopes, joys and frustrations of building the new economy. All welcome. ph. 01239 820971 ffi

 

The model of 4CG - the group of 400 shareholders who bought an acre of derelict Cardigan, which is returning to life, has flown. Like wild seed it is landing in neighbouring communities, and shoots are coming up with feral determination.

They need it. To buy back the centrepiece of the village or land for traditional farmng is dauntingly expensive. Business models stretch their bottom lines to threadbare elastic in acrobatic attempts to  justify the outlay with plausible income.

But hope springs eternal in the teeth of grinding numbers. ( visualise that!)

Up the road from 4CG is the Cellar Bar. Tragically this sound business with poets dive below, cafe at ground level, spilling onto the wide pavement and social housing above is now in receivership. The owners were too good at being mein hosts and turning empty shops into rivendells, they drank from the forbidden river, and intoxicated by dreams slipped below the bottom line.

The cellar bar is uniquie, it hosts live music three nights a week, the open mic is where everyone with a song or music to share can do so, and no-one cant afford entry. Where poverty, mishap, divorce, lifes slings cast their poisoned arrows, in the fellowship and music of the cellar bar is found the antidote for almost anything. I went in traumatised by my broken hard-drive and came out laughing at my own jokes about it!

A talented mottley of musicians and performers, cafe workers and audience have raised the hope of buying the building and letting the music play on. They need help. Unusually the investment that will be needed will be amply repaid by income. That is because receivership prices make sure of this.

 

 

 

cardigan castle cafe, cellar bar below

photo: shareholders buy back the old police-station and court in Cardigan

 

Maybe 8 miles down the main road is Eglwswrw, a cross roads of a few houses with a rural hinterland. It had a shop until a few years ago, and still has a garage store within a mile. 

A meeting this summer to start a real community shop was packed to the gunnals. The dream is to buy the focal building of the village, listed old inn facing the road, central and iconic. The costs soar above the potential income to justify it, but the steering group persist on the road, raising funds in small steps at sociable events sustained by the impossible peak's allure.

The seeds blowing over windswept countryside have been caught in the folds where hamlets cluster, once supporting their mills, farms, shops, schools and churches.

 

For 70 years the Bwddin on the cross-roads was the shop and post-office, signalling that this was a village, you had arrived. It outlasted the school, the garage and petrol pump, a mill, textile factory, a railway and several other shops. It was all that was left of the former thriving economy of the valley. Then it closed five years ago. In October the determined residents managed to negotiate a stay of execution from the bank, they have six months to run it as a weekly shop and raise the funds to buy it.

They take up the tale:

"I have to say it is going increasingly well" Lindsey Roberts told me "We open Saturday, 10 to 4. The first five weeks we had 30 plus people, then the number rose to 40 plus and last week we had 59 involved. Sometimes I have to shoo them out when we close.

We really don't have much in here at all, just what people bake or grow or sew. Still people come in and say Wow! and mean it. We had quite a heartfelt complaint when the bread kept running out. We have the kettle always ready to offer a cuppa and a shelf of books for people to borrow and add to. We have a pretty strong rota now, and what is nice is the variety of people who are on it, we even have a previous owner of the shop, a great asset.

We are more than a shop, we have one older man who cycles in at the same time for his loaf and newspaper. If we don't see him we worry. Another man cares for his wife with dementia, one of us sits with her in the car while he comes in for a cuppa and chat. We get comments like 'Now I have somewhere to walk to again'.

There is a pattern to the day, the traditional shoppers, born or brought up in the Welsh community come in almost as soon as we are open, the later comers to the village roll in at later hours, the teenagers often make it just before we shut! And its quite effortless, it is sort of running itself. We have ten producers offering stock.

The really hard work was to persuade the bank to give us stay of execution. I began to feel like family with the bank, they saw so much of me. We are quietly optimistic, but there is a lot of work ahead now we know the deadline to raise the money in six months."

Villages often have old divisions and contrasting sectors, from newcomers with strange diets who do yoga for exercise to retired professionals who pick up a phone when they want a curtain sewn or the lawn mown, to hard muscled farming families who do everything for themselves, and eat all the things the dieters don't. A village shop brings them together, both sides of the counter, and a lot more than money is exchanged.

 

With no shop, no reason to mingle, divisions can harden, community relationships freeze over. The rhythm of the regularly open shop, stocked with what the village can produce as much as buy in, thaws the social arteries. The pulse and pattern of village life is coming back as life returns to its heart.

The constitution and bank account are nearly ready and cheques are beginning to arrive on the wind of the news. When you are going the right way the path appears, doors open as you approach,.. and not just in supermarkets!

Buy into our future:

Community shares bring in interest, they can be sold but do not change in value. If you would like to express interest in buying shares in these enterprises, contact the following:

Glandwr Village shop: lindsey.roberts2@btinternet.com 01994 419508

Eglwswrw Village shop: ecpa.sa41.secretary@hotmail.co.uk adrian 07787 182732 and 01239 891394

The Cellar Bar, Cardigan: Peter Kinsey 01239614903 CB500X500@hotmail.com

The Old police station and Pwllhai, Cardigan: Shan Williams 01239 shan.aelybryn@talktalk.net www.4cg.org.uk

Hermon community shop and hostel: Cris Tomos 01239 821968 cris@cwmarian.org.uk canolfanhermon.org.uk

 

home produce in Glandwr shop

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Latest comments

22.01 | 19:00

Hi, do you have any adze in the shop at the moment? thanks

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14.04 | 09:58

Have you or can you suggest any use for rosettes awarded at the agricultural shows please?

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23.03 | 18:06

Hi from Ellie at Pembs. FOE I can't make it to your Green Fair ,but will try and bring some info. about latest campaigns etc. this Friday for a display board.

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01.12 | 23:31

Is there an local organisation in SouthWest Wales for smallholders and allotment holders to sell excess produce from their holding for income?

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