The Minginish peninsula was celebrating this week with the confirmation that a community buy-out of the ‘Stop Shop’ in Carbost has finally been completed.
The project was delayed due to the first covid lockdown and since then the Carbost Community Shop Community Interest Company has been working hard to organise the legal side of the purchase.
Director Cathy Simon told the Free Press: “We are so pleased that everything has gone through at last and the current owner, Sharon Thacker, has been so supportive and patient during the whole process. We cannot thank Sharon enough for keeping the shop open for the community during the covid pandemic until we took over.
“Sharon has also been a great help to our newly appointed manager, Ted McMullen, and supported the handover process. This all meant we were able to keep the shop open during this period and continue to provide a vital service for the community. We are also really pleased current and experienced staff member Fiona MacLeod is continuing working for us.
“The local community have been great from the very beginning and are continuing to support our new manager, Ted, as he settles into his new role.”
The Scottish Land Fund, who provided the £140,000 of funds to purchase the shop have been great to work with, said Cathy, and supported the community fully during the project.
“We are really grateful that they believed in our project and helped us to keep our shop in Carbost,” she added. “We would also like to thank Minginish Community Hall Association and their project officer Henrik Micksi who supported the project in the early days. MCHA are also pleased to support the project via their Fairy Pools carpark income and have granted funds to modernise the shop’s IT system.
“We are all really excited about creating a really great little community shop. New signs are coming soon with a logo designed by committee member Cath Waters, we have extra funding from the SLF for repairs and these are planned for the next few months, and as a community business we will try to expand and improve the services we offer, for example, we would like to set up a more formal home delivery service.”
Carbost Community Shop CIC have also obtained grant funding from Zerowaste Scotland (Islands Green Recovery Programme fund) for dispensing equipment which they will be ordering soon to help develop an eco-range of products.
Fellow director Janette Sutherland said: “I am delighted that the Scottish Land Fund has allowed us to retain a village shop. It is an important community hub and provides a vital service especially during critical times like the current lockdown.”
As a recently arrived resident, director David Smith said it has been “heartening to see the value people place on the continuation” of the local shop.
“It has been a pleasure to play a part in bringing this about,” he added.
New manager Ted told the Free Press that when he moved to Carbost a year ago, he didn’t really get a chance to integrate due to Covid restrictions.
“So to now have the opportunity to manage the shop I am getting to know the character of the place,” he added. “It is fantastic. The people are so open, friendly and welcoming – even to this Irishman – and the characters are great.
“As we are 18 miles from the nearest supermarket, the shop really is a lifeline to many, especially in these times where people are sheltering and when the winter grips the roads. Now the community of Carbost own the shop they are able to influence it, shape it and help us develop it to make it something even more special.”