It’s taken three and a half years of planning, fundraising and building but Fittleworth Community Shop opened its doors today.
The store, which will eventually include a Post Office facility, has opened alongside a brand-new playground near the village hall, with a grand opening party to be held on Saturday, October 6.
Alison Welterveden, who has led the project, said it was ‘a little overwhelming’ to finally see the shop ready to go after so much effort and community support.
“It shows us how much a village can actually achieve, if you set your mind to something, you can do it,” she said. “It’s been a very long project but we’ve come together and it’s going to happen.”
The project has seen residents rally to invest in the shop company, with more than £40,000 worth of shares sold to around 250 people and thousands of pounds more given to the team in donations.
Alison said the store also had offers of volunteer support for its two main staff from around 40 people, which she said was ‘phenomenal’ given the shop had yet to open.
Along with providing locally sourced produce in the shop, the building contains a café area for people to meet and a Post Office facility is expected to be up and running in the shop by mid-November.
A separate playground area will also be built to offer something for teenagers in the village.
“We feel we’re creating a space that will be for all the different age groups throughout the village,” Alison explained.
In that spirit, the grand opening on Saturday, from 2pm to 4pm, is planned as a celebration for the whole village, offering a special menu of cream teas and cakes at the café.
Cutting the ribbon at 2.30pm will be the winner of a school poster competition to promote the event and the guest of honour will be one of the village’s oldest residents.
Customers are, of course, very welcome from today.
“We’re so excited,” Alison said.
“All of our village are so curious to know what’s here, I think it’s going to be lovely for the village.”
Find out more soon at www.fittleworthstores.com