Brixham set to get first community store

Some of the team already on board

Some of the team already on board - Credit: Oats General Store

Brixham is set to get its first community owned and managed shop - and anyone can become a member of the Community Benefit Society established to run Oats General Store.

The team set to take Oats forward and evolve into a store run by residents includes current owner Sally Fisher, Brixham town councillor Rosemary Clarke, Joe Brown, Lucy Maker, Helen Russell and Julie Richardson - and residents are being invited to join the project.

Sally Fisher said: "As the current owner of Oats, I feel lucky to have had the opportunity to play my part within this community, enjoying the company of customers and making new friends.

"I am excited to see our original vision bearing the seed of a community store and I’m happy to be involved in the change.

"I believe local collaboration and co-operation is a way to sustainability; to see this project taking fruition in Brixham is very heart warming indeed!"

Oats, on Fore Street, sells a range of organic foods, groceries, supplements, household and toiletry products, a refill service and a little cafe.

Oats began its life in Bolton Street more than nine years ago when the owners decided they wanted to become more integrated into the local community, walk to work instead of having to drive out of town each day and find a way to support locals wishing to adopt a more sustainable lifestyle.

Sally Fisher in the shop

Sally Fisher in the shop - Credit: Oats General Store

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Sally Fisher said: “Oats came about because it fulfilled all of these criteria and we were able to offer products which were currently unavailable locally, complementing the other businesses already trading in the town.”

After five years, the business moved to a larger and more prominent position in the town centre.

Now almost 10 years on, there are some exciting changes afoot.

Due to Alan’s retirement and Sally wanting to fulfil her original dream of Oats being a community project, plans are underway to grow Oats outwards and into the community.

Oats in Fore Street, Brixham

Oats will be Brixham’s first ever community owned and managed enterprise - Credit: Oats General Store

Lucky Maker said: "Over the past year we have all come to realise just how important our local food producers and retailers are to our communities and so a small group of residents have been working to co-create a wonderful opportunity to sustain and grow this much-loved food business.

"Our vision is to transform the shop into a community owned cooperative bringing to life the long tradition of Brixham as a cooperative town and our aim is to continue providing our local community with:

  • the widest possible choice of local healthy and sustainable food
  • a variety of organic products
  • encouragement and support for local growers, producers and Fair-Trade
  • a place for meeting, sharing and learning about food
  • a supply of loose products and a re-filling service
  • online shopping and home deliveries
  • plans to develop a range of affordable essentials
  • over time, a bespoke service to local hospitality and retail businesses.

"We’re looking for ‘hands on’ community-minded entrepreneurs and engaged directors to help us all take another few steps into the future."

A meeting is being held for people interested in learning more about the project.

The open evening at Oats will be held on Thursday, July 1, from 6pm to 8pm.

Due to Covid restrictions, anyone who wants to attend needs to register their interest - log on to www.oatsofbrixham.co.uk/event