Village shop to reopen

The Etchingham Community Stores 30/3/11
The Etchingham Community Stores 30/3/11

ETCHINGHAM Village Shop is to re-open this week, more than a year after it shut down after running into difficulties.

After months of planning, negotiating, building and painting, volunteers from the Etchingham Community Interest Company (CIC) in conjunction with the parish council, generous sponsors and residents Neil and Sian Cotterill, will re-open the new village shop and deli on Thursday.

Mary Varrall, the leader of Etchingham Parish Council, will cut the ribbon at 11am.

Colin Phillips, chairman of the CIC, said: “The previous village shop ran into difficulties several years ago and finally closed in April 2011.

“After consultation with village residents Etchingham Parish Council stepped in to buy the building and retain it as a valuable asset for the village.

“The CIC then had to compete against other interested parties in a bid to run the shop on a commercial basis.

“After several months, a great team effort has enabled us to provide a much needed shop and deli for local people.”

There has been a shop in Etchingham for over 150 years.

A survey of villagers at the end of 2011 showed that 95 per cent of the 50 per cent who responded wanted a new shop.

Therefore the CIC set about raising the funding and renovating the building.

Funding was secured via the Etchingham Parish Council, the Rother Rural Partnership (The WARR Partnership), Rother District Council, the directors of the CIC and other local people.

The CIC also took advantage of a new initiative where donations made online from individuals are matched by the Sussex Community Foundation.

Cllr Mary Varrall said: “We involved the local community from the very beginning consulting them about the purchase of the property, who they wanted to run the new shop and what they wanted from it.

“The directors of the CIC then put together an extensive business plan to establish the viability of the new venture and worked with a young couple in the village who had previous experience of running a similar enterprise.

“People have been very generous in their financial support and we believe this will continue as they and others use the shop on a daily and weekly basis.”

The new shop will differ from the previous one as it will be both a shop and delicatessen selling specialist cheeses, freshly made to order sandwiches and homemade dishes by manager and chef Neil Cotterill.

As well as the basics, the new shop will also have a farm fresh fruit and veg section, a bake off oven with croissants, baguettes and homemade sausage rolls plus an extensive deli counter.

Local suppliers will include the Lighthouse Bakery in Bodiam, Speldhurst Sausages and Candy Stripe Bakery.

The shop is also introducing Fresh Fish Fridays and Take Out Thursdays, when home cooked meals will be ready for collection.

Neil Cotterill said: “We will continue to listen to our customers and look forward to attracting people from surrounding areas as well as those from the village.”

Etchingham Shop and Deli will be open seven days a week: Monday to Wednesday 7am-6pm, Thursday and Friday 7am-8.30pm, Saturday 8am-6pm and Sunday 8am-4pm.