Our journey started back in October 2019 when villagers started talking about taking over the ‘Session Music’ shop that was being advertised for sale or rent in our village.
The Parish Council decided to survey the village to see how its population viewed the need for a village shop. The robust results demonstrated a strong desire within our community to establish a shop.
In fact, the survey overwhelmingly showed villagers wanted a shop and café and most importantly, make it the hub of our village, a place where people can come together.
A group of like-minded and passionate volunteers came together, and a Management Committee was formed and by February 2020 we had formed a Community Benefit Society, which is registered as a Limited Company.
To impact the business efficiently and effectively, we focused upon making optimum use of our specific and individual areas of expertise which led to the formation of working groups. These working groups include; premises and location, funding and shares, products and services, communications, legal and finance, human resources, retail operations, overall business planning and events.
What will our shop look like, where will it be?
We quickly realised that the Session Music premises would not be affordable, so a team of local architects and building experts volunteered to start looking at building economical, and secure premises, to be built sympathetically, whilst considering the environment surrounding the planned site. Two sites were considered – at Manor Fruit Farm and next to the car park off Hunts Hill Road. There are a number of critical success factors to take into account; the shop must be accessible to everyone, the availability of plenty of car parking and we must look after our local wildlife, our aim is to enhance the area, blending in: planting trees and creating swathes of wildflowers.
We wanted to find a central point of the village so that people will be able people to walk to the shop, or drive if further afield and be able to park.
After many consultations with architects, building experts, the Parish Council and Guildford Borough Planning, we identified a preferred site, an area on Manor Fruit Farm, settling between The Village Hall and the Therapy Garden, which has other clubs and facilities nearby.
A set of plans were drawn up and submitted after seeking pre-planning advice from Guildford BC’s Planning Department, and we are pleased to say our detailed plans have now been approved so it’s just a case of raising the funding and building and setting up the shop and cafe.
Since these first few critical months, we have prepared our detailed business plan, raised funds through our Share Offer and Government funding and out of all this effort we have seen the Normandy Shop & Café come to life.
So our story continues….
The area that gets us all incredibly excited is ‘what will be inside our store? – lining the shelves and filling the baskets. Which of the many suggested services will be on offer and which of our countless favourite cakes will be lovingly and locally baked, decorated and prepared for sale, ready to be devoured with a refreshing cup of tea or aromatic coffee in our café?
To ensure we offer a great experience and meet the needs of those expressed locally; we have a team of people reviewing the outcomes of the village survey and aligning this with the research we are carrying out in terms of the offerings made by other village shops.
The ultimate aim is to sell local produce alongside everyday items to cater for household day to day needs along with odd and all-important treat! Once the shop and café are established, we will encourage its organic growth, always testing the water and ensuring our offerings are with the best interests of the community at heart.
Our current list includes:
- Fresh: Fruit and Vegetables, (working with The Therapy Garden and current Market supplier)
- Chilled: Fresh meat, dairy, cured meats, processed meats, pastries, cold drinks
- Ambient: Bakery, oils and dressings, sauces, herbs and rubs, beers and wines, flour, sugar, cereals, coffee and tea, jams and pickles, confectionary, household cleaning items
- Frozen: Ready meals, desserts, free flow vegetables, fish, free flow pastries, ice−creams
- Daily purchases: milk, eggs, emergency cleaning products, toiletries, pet food, newspapers, lottery tickets, non-alcoholic and alcoholic beverages
- Post office: standard postal services
- Cafe: Fresh bean-to-cup coffee, teas, hot chocolate, sweet pastries, tray bakes, homemade cakes, sandwiches. Once the cafe has been established light lunches such as quiches, ploughman lunches, jacket potatoes to be added.
- Local crafts: greeting cards, gifts, paintings, pottery
- Local produce: Honey, Hunts Hill Farm selection of meat, Hogs Back Brewery, egg producers, Greyfriars Vineyard.
We invite you to browse this site and find out more.
A few words from the committee
Over the past 3 years we have seen our village come together, helping each other through the pandemic, economic changes and celebrations.
As a group of villagers ourselves, we feel that opening the Normandy Shop & Café will encourage the Normandy spirit to grow. We believe old fashioned values are returning and the village shop and café is the epitome of this, especially in a rural environment such as ours.
At last on the 29th of June, 2023, the day arrived when we were able to open for the first time. We decided to open the Café first, which would give people the chance to sample the drinks and food on offer, whilst also giving us more time to sort out the stocking of the shop. Initially, the café opens for three days a week – Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 9am to 3pm. The shop will open for business during August, when we also hope to increase the hours we open.
What this space!
Bob, Gary, Jan, Karen, Jill, Mike, Briony and Paul