One of Britain's oldest shops set to celebrate milestone
PUBLISHED: 12:14 17 October 2019 | UPDATED: 12:14 17 October 2019
One of Britain's oldest shops, which has survived several scrapes with closure, is about to celebrate a silver milestone.
Next month marks 25 years since Itteringham Village Shop, in north Norfolk, was taken over by the Itteringham Community Association after its owners, Brian and Dorothy Fairhead, had to give it up.
Association committee member Mike Hemsley said they were planning a curry night on Saturday, October 19, which would see the shop turned into a "pop-up restaurant" from 6pm to 9pm.
Mr Hemsley said: "There's no booking required - just come and support this event that demonstrates the resilience and community determination to retain this historic and much-loved village community asset."
The shop was first opened in 1637. Until 1994 it was run by Mr and Mrs Fairhead and before that, by Mr Fairhead's father, Albert.
But when Mr Fairhead became terminally ill, the volunteer-based association was formed to keep the shop running.
Mr Hemsley said: "Few would have imagined that it would grow and thrive into the successful community model it is today.
"Through the years the Itteringham Community Association has battled the usual commercial headaches of stock control, wages, volunteer recruitment, fundraising, marketing, advertising and promotion.
"But throughout 25 years a whole group of volunteers and village residents have given time and skills to the project in a kind of unending human relay race."
A different 'manager of the day' runs the store along with other volunteers, and the shop puts a focus on stocking goods and produce from local suppliers.
The shop faced closure in 2017, but was saved when North Norfolk District Council bought the property. Earlier this year the council signed a 99-year lease with the council.
Mr Hemsley said about the celebration: "We will be serving take away or eat in curries with rice, naan bread and poppadoms plus they are serving beers, lager and wine to enjoy with the meal if you choose to stay and dine in the cafe and gallery areas. Space and quantities will be limited to the first 80 customers."
The association won a retail innovation award from The Plunkett Foundation in 2015, a regional award from the Countryside Alliance in 2018 and now awaits news of a regional nomination from the Rural Business Awards, to be announced in November.