A History of All Cannings Store

When the All Cannings village shop closed in 2002 there was some gloom in the village. There had been a shop at the heart of All Cannings since the turn of the nineteenth century. The 'village shop' had evolved through two forms. The first shop had appeared in was in what was to become the village hall. Its successor, a much grander Co-Operative, was sited across the lane and enjoyed a special delivery vehicle access into the yard behind the store. With the growth of business in Devizes after the War, trade was drawn out of All Cannings and the Co-Operative eventually closed in the latter part of the last century.



However, all was not lost and a new, privately owned shop was opened facing onto the main street, just a stone's throw away from its predecessors. This shop thrived until 2002 when its owners decided to retire. This is when the fight back started. In the years which followed, villagers tried by every means to arrange funding, administration, a site and staff to re-start the shop as a private village co-operative.

 

After much effort, two committees, four years, some very generous fund raising within the village, some successful applications for grants-in-aid from, amongst several others, the former Kennet District Council, Community First, The South West RDA, and the North Wessex Downs (Strategic Development Fund), the prospects for a new shop started to look positive. However, without hours and hours of freely given time by volunteers across the village to dig, paint, decorate, wire, plumb, clean, organize, persuade, negotiate and inspire - the All Cannings Community Store would not have been reborn as an Industrial and Provident Society, under the Act, on 17 December 2005.

 

Looking back, it is as well that few of the managing committee knew anything much about the difficulties that they would face in order to re-establish a village shop. Essentially, the committee simply wanted to re-create a village focus because they felt it was a missing ingredient. Certainly, none of them had worked together before and only one had any experience of actually running a shop. So, simply agreeing the internal shape of the shop, where to find a cheap portacabin, how much to pay, how to get it to All Cannings, what to stock and at what prices, who to appoint and for what hours, where to seek volunteers from, working out what jobs were likely and which skills were to be needed - let alone who was to be responsible for what or whether the shop should re-open as a shop - cum - post office (always assuming we could still afford anything at all after all of the other planned and unplanned expenditure) were only the start of the challenges the committee faced...

 

... And then there were the vexed questions about how to persuade customers across the threshold once the initial wave of curiosity had faded and how to sustain every member of the committee and the shop staff's energy and enthusiasm after the first few days, weeks and months into the steady state routine running of the daily, weekly and monthly grind. Then there was the whole issue of stock checks, the 'money to the bank' run, the key safes, the issues of shop security, the maintenance of the managing committee, running the Annual General Meetings, the shareholders, the maintenance of relationships with other village stakeholders in other committees, societies and clubs, and the less than straightforward issues around opening hours, Bank Holiday policy, disabled access, data protection, fire awareness, health and safety policy, weights and measures requirements, staff management, duty rosters, volunteers, sales, margins, purchasing policy, sell-by-dates, alcohol policy and authority, prices, budgets and marketing... not to mention creating a logo on which all could agree and a web site that everyone with access to the internet could understand and use... not to forget that the first edition of the shop had begun life simply as an empty 40ft portacabin. Was that going to be the end of it or was the shop to grow and provide an enjoyable shopping experience for all ages, locals, holiday makers, passers-by and customers from the wider district in the surrounding villages?

 

The decision was taken after intensive consultation in 2009, within the village and beyond, to extend the shopping floor space of the shop and to improve the internal management system by adding a bar coding system and an electric till. It was also decided to improve the external impression and image of the shop by cladding it and fencing it in to match its surroundings.

 

That so much has been achieved so far has been tremendous. The shop managing committee would like to pay due tribute to all of the wonderful volunteer support, the generous fund raising from within the village, the helpful and supportive assistance of Kennet District Council, Wiltshire Council, the Devizes Area Board and Community First, and especially our customers. Without all of these people the shop would not be the functioning and fun village asset it has become. Rest assured the shop isn't going to stand still. We have high hopes for the future and we look forward to the years ahead.

 

2015 was a landmark year for the village shop as it marked its 10 year anniversary in December 2015. This was a considerable achievement when you consider that the initial advice given was that All Cannings was only just large enough to sustain a community shop. It is testament to many many people, both volunteers and customers alike that the shop continues to flourish and is a central part of village life.