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The One Stop Shetland Shop


crofter-amy
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Did somebody not post on here a bit back about starting up a website for more or less this same idea? I seem to vaguely recall it went ahead in some form, but whether it still exists or not I don't know, as I've not come across anything about it since.

 

Okay, a site isn't a real world physical outlet by a long shot, but it has potential as a test bed for the demand for/popularity of etc of the general concept of a "co-op" type local outlet.

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That big empty unit in Bolts is already hosting craft/food events.  I think the next one next weekend........Saturday I guess.  Realistically it would need some sort of Co-op to set up and run such a shop but think what we could buy.  Selection of cheeses.  Ice cream.  Sweet and savoury bakery products, vegetables and some fruit, fish, meat, seaweed and whatever else people could come up with.  And that is only the food side.

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I like the idea of a one-stop Shetland shop.. and its something that we have talked about within the group that currently has a market at Bolts once a fortnight. Realistically though, it would take a lot of time, money etc to put together and all the individual producers are usually too busy running their own businesses to get that involved.

 

The economics are difficult - to run that shop you mention would cost atleast £4-5k a month for rent, rates, electricity, insurance and staff to be open 6 days a week.  If it did food, drinks and crafts you'd need equipment, licenses (for alcohol - selling just Lerwick/Valhalla beer you'd never make it pay) and good display furniture.....Then there are margins.... a lot of local producers like to sell themselves as they can make more and are often not that attractive to retailers as they cannot offer a decent margin and stay well-priced due to their poor economies of scale and 'hand-made techniques'.   Then there is the seasonality of a lot of Shetland products - both supply and demand which would lead to some very difficult months with limited supplies... so we've got a lot of costs and limited opportunity to make money. 

 

Scottish Govt funding is available to help the setting up of co-op type shops, but would probably only support the food side, which is a key policy priority at present and if you wanted to do such a thing, the Street would be difficult and Bolts already has Scoop

 

In my view, Scoop does a great job sourcing a lot of local produce and that should be the first port of call for anybody looking to source something local, when there is not a market on.   But in respect of markets, as somebody who has attended/organised them over nearly 4 years now, it is sad to admit that they appear to be declining too.. why?..not sure, maybe too many other ways to make money than to produce/attend markets, too easy to buy everything in the supermarket, boredom.. same old stalls and nothing new?  don't know really.  But TIngwall ceased at Christmas after many years (our group is planning to resurrect it next month.. bigger, better), Vidlin has turned into teas rather than a teas/market and with the exception of Sandwick Carnegie and Baltasound, there is nothing else regular where you can access more than one or two food stalls. From the producers point of view, on some days, so little is spent with stallholders, that you would only do it for love, certainly not for money! Producers get put off and don't return.

 

Sorry to sound a bit gloomy but whilst I would love to see the Shetland Shop.. I think it would take a lot more like-minded people than there are at present in the sector to get it established and take the idea forward for the reasons I have suggested.....  

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We have found that the work done by the local producers in holding a farmers market is still working well. Add to that the work done by community leaders such as the lay clergy and council officers.

Unfortunately, the use of the food bank has increased dramatically, the local producers do help there and have realised that they have to keep margins tight. we help them with free promotion and once a year we have a Live event that brings over 2000 folk into town shops. This costs us about £3k but realises £10k initially for those who take part. I know this money has been spent on future promotions. One or two of the licences traders have returned their money made to allow this to continue.Though work is being done to reduce the outlay.

 

It is hard work and takes up quite a bit of my time and the others time, it is however well worth it.

 

The idea of a local store is fantastic for local produce, but as said, the costs could be prohibitive.

 

Community interaction will be the key to more local produce being sold.

 

We have found, through using the community garden and plans to open up more areas for locals, we can also introduce loval suppliers.

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