Smarden is a village close to Ashford in Kent. In 2019, its post office and shop closed, so local residents decided to raise funds to build a new store with post office and café services.
Their aim was to create a vibrant social hub in the village, promoting inclusion and reducing isolation, with particular benefit for the elderly, disabled and those with limited access to a car.
Prior to launching the community share offer, the group appealed for provisional pledges to see how committed the local community would be to financially supporting the project. In a little over one month, they received pledges from around 110 people totalling almost £70,000 – so they decided to proceed with their share offer.
In total, £89,675 was invested by 311 investors from the community, including a number of small businesses in the neighbourhood. Smarden Store was also successful in securing a loan of £75,000 from Kent Community Foundation. The Community Shares Booster Programme awarded the store a development grant of £8,300 and a booster investment of £85,325.
Now a Community Benefit Society, Smarden Store offers a range of groceries and household goods to local people. Due to popular demand, the store currently has an open-ended share offer, inviting more residents within the community to become members.
“Ever since the first share offer closed, we’ve been asked time and time again by residents, volunteers and people new to the parish, if they can also join the store community membership," says their share offer document.