NEWSPAPERS and magazines were added to the wide range of things available fromWilstone’s village shop from 11th May, but would it help to bring in more customers?
That’s the question that shopkeepers Tim and Jenny wanted to find out. After a promising start when the shop re-opened its doors in March, business has in fact declined on a week by week basis, and is currently nowhere near enough to make the shop viable. Tim told Village News that they had gained a number of regular customers right from the start and these people had proved to be very loyal supporters. Tim and Jenny had hoped to build on this to edge up the turnover but so far it has not happened. Starting the newspaper sales was an attempt to atract additional customers, but it is not a decision they were able to take lightly. Astonishingly, an investment of £1,600 is required before you can even sell one paper! The wholesaler insists on a special delivery box costing £300 to buy, and a deposit of £1,300 has to be handed over. Papers are not on sale or return, and the minimum daily order is 70 papers. As all these have to be paid for, sold or not, the opportunity to make losses is clear. During the first two weeks of newspapers the average daily sales were 20. Weekend paper sales were better, but the wholesaler is only willing to offer a fixed weekly package of papers so there is no opportunity for Tim and Jenny to tailor supply to demand. The consequence has been losses on the newspapers of £140 per week. Tim says that obviously they cannot continue to bear such substantial losses, and the experiment with newspapers will have to end in June unless there is a dramatic change. Some things have gone better though. The off-licence has helped keep things going, and there are now more customers in the afternoon period after 3pm. The greetings cards and confectionary have proved popular, as has the addition of ice creams for the summer season. Milk and dairy products go well, and the local bread and local free range eggs are popular. Tim said: “We have been made very welcome in the village and are delighted to have met so many nice people. We like being here and would like to make a success of the shop – it’s what we want to do.” The harsh reality though is that turnover needs to increase by 40% before they can even say that it is ‘ticking over’.