Wren's Community Shop is a community run store, working on a purely volunteer basis
If you are thinking about volunteering to work in Wren’s, these volunteer stories might inspire you to take the plunge. Why don’t you come and join us?
Being your average man, I have never been really interested in shopping. I hope that is not a sexist remark, but as a child, I never played “shops” or “post office” or anything like that. So when my wife and I moved to East Knoyle some eight years ago, and wanting to be involved in the community, working at the Village Shop was not my first choice. But my wife, Rachel, volunteered to help out at Wren’s whilst I became the Village Hall caretaker, which I thought was more my cup of tea.
After five years of caretaking, I fancied a change and was encouraged to join the volunteers who help keep this hub of village life going. I have never doubted the value of a village having a community shop. It was one of the criteria in our requirements when looking for a place to retire. But I was surprised at the amazing amount of effort that is necessary to keep the shop thriving.
There are so many aspects and requirements needed, not only serving behind the till, but opening and closing, ordering and stocking, training and maintaining. Although it is an unpaid commitment, I have found it so worthwhile and rewarding. It is a great way to meet and talk with all the wonderful people that make up this village. And to give up a couple of hours during the week to serve this community is, dare I say it, good fun.
If I had my childhood again, you never know, I might even choose to “play shops”.
Venetia started working as a volunteer when we moved to the village about 8 years ago. I joined her a couple of years ago when I retired from full time employment, although I still work part time in London. We work together on the same shift because, although never a politician, the main reason I retired was to spend more time with the family, having been AWOL for most of the last 50 years.
The shop is a huge village asset which deserves all our support, as shown last summer during the early lockdowns. And working in the shop is great fun and very rewarding - why not give it a go.
I am passionate about working in Wren’s for so many reasons.
I do it to support the village shop and Post Office (what would we do without it - just listen to visitors - they are in awe of what we have) We must not lose it.
I want to be part of the community of EK. When you first arrive you think - OK that is nice but it is up to you to get involved and learn about the village from people who have been here for ages and who want to welcome new people provided they are interested. I can think of numerous stalwarts of the village who deserve our support and interest and involvement. It doesn't pay to sit back and look on - you have to get in there and do something.
Working in the shop you find out things! If you just sit back in your house and admire the wallpaper you will never learn. There is so much to discover out there. And it is not just idle gossip, it may be something that matters to you. Something that enhances your life and lifts your horizons (I am thinking of the arty people here - they are numerous and magnificent).
It keeps your brain engaged and active (especially if you have retired from work). It can be small steps - like learning how to SAVE an order you are ringing up on the till in order to serve a customer, or remembering how to Return an item and then successfully replace it with something else. For the computer non-literate among us, that is quite an achievement. It also keeps you talking to people. So important this - during lockdown we have stopped socialising so now find it difficult - it is hard and tiring to talk to people, so much easier to dig a hole and stay there. (I speak from experience - went to the pub last night - felt exhausted today..)
So often I see people stepping in to the Shop for the first time and hear them exclaim how lovely it is. And it is! Not only for the visitors but also for us volunteers. There is a genuine feeling of camaraderie and non-exclusiveness amongst the volunteers which makes sorting out the varied daily tasks interchangeable and fun. It has always been one of the unspoken tenets of the Shop for as long as I can remember to make it a welcoming, efficient and pleasant place to come to and it is. I am proud to be part of such a diverse and dedicated team.