Dorset village of Halstock setting the trend for rural community shops

While we often hear these days about how our high street shops are in crisis with more and more major retailers closing down, the picture is very different it seems for community-owned, rural shops.

Run largely by volunteers, there are now more than 360 co-operative shops across the country, but one of the first opened in Halstock in Dorset nearly three decades ago.

When it first opened in 1991, the idea of community-run shops relying on volunteers, was at that time visionary.

  • See our reporter Claire Manning's full report from Halstock Village Shop below.

With a population of just over 500, the nearest other place to shop for villagers in Halstock is Yeovil which is around six miles away but with a bus service that only runs there one day a week, without the village shop many locals say they'd be completely cut off.

Halstock Community Shop and Post Office is run by just three paid employees and around 20 volunteers.

In the last seven years Halstock Shop's revenue has gone up by more than 50%. Credit: ITV West Country

Despite relying on volunteers to keep the shop going, the shop's manager says the volunteers take such pride in their shop, they're just as committed as if they were paid staff.

Interestingly they give almost more commitment than the full-time staff ...... no I have no trouble at all working with volunteers, it's just a wonderful place to work.

BARRY DENNIS, Manager, Halstock Community Shop
All funds go back to the community and the projects it runs. Credit: ITV West Country

In the last seven years Halstock Shop's revenue has gone up by more than 50% and profits from the shop go back into funding community projects.

We've got support from the villagers, and the community, there are about 500 people in Halstock and 500 people in Corscombe. We did nearly £300,000 a year last year and hopefully we'll do a little bit more this year.

ANTHONY WOODROFFE, Director, Halscombe Village Shop
Credit: ITV West Country