Bright future for Raasay shop as community take ownership

Raasay’s village shop is now under community ownership.

The shop was placed on the market by Caroline MacKechnie in 2012 but with no buyer forthcoming the community decided to launch a bid to take it over and so safeguard its future.

Residents formed a steering group and with the help of the island’s local development officers and Highlands and Islands Enterprise began to raise funds to buy the shop and cover initial running costs.
Funding was received from Investing In Ideas, Village SOS, the Princes Countryside Trust and HIE itself, while over £10,000 was raised through the sale of shares in the enterprise, with a total of £180,000 secured by the new Community of Raasay Retail Association Ltd.

The Raasay Community Store’s new manager, David Carslaw, said: “The local shop is so important to life on the island. If there is nowhere people can go to pick up their groceries then they will start to move away from the island. This could threaten the school and other services and then the community is finished.”

The community now hopes to increase turnover and so become a sustainable cornerstone of the community for generations to come, and have been in touch with similar enterprises in Staffin, Sleat and Jura.

HIE provided access for the shop board to specialist advice in retail business planning and human resources, as well as a grant and loan package of £92,500.

Jennifer MacPherson from HIE said: “We are delighted that the local community has saved this vital service for Raasay. Across the Highlands and Islands, HIE is helping communities to sustain facilities such as shops and filling stations through community ownership. Projects not only keep services alive but also create jobs, provide income streams and ultimately help people increase the opportunities in our more remote areas.”