Eleanor Lohr is a volunteer at Tewin Stores and she has been instrumental in the rejuvenation of the community shop. The shop had started off in a bad way, but was brought back to life by the community. Eleanor talks to #TeamHerts Volunteering about the role she undertakes.
Tewin Stores is at the heart of village life. Serving behind the counter is a very sociable activity. I find it keeps me busy and it’s fun. The shop sells household products, home baked bread and pastries, as well as newspapers, cakes, deli and dairy items and also has a small café for customers to relax in. Most of the customers are regulars, collecting their newspapers, or coming in for a chat over coffee and tea.
We’re open every weekday from 8.00am to 4.30pm and on Saturday and Sunday mornings. Many of the customers are also volunteers, so if there’s a busy period, often a customer can turn into a volunteer for 5 minutes to help out! Once I went into the shop with my daughter to buy a red pepper and some onion relish, but as it was one of our ‘Monthly Lunches,’ the volunteers on duty were very busy taking orders for ‘homemade soup and a sandwich.’ I ended up behind the counter and served 2 take-away coffees, an organic lip salve, a newspaper and a gluten-free cake to three different customers. Fortunately my daughter has the patience to wait for me!
I have been a volunteer since Tewin Stores opened as a community shop. It was hard work at first, bringing a building that was in a bad state of repair back to ‘life’. We did not have any experience of running a shop, and as a social enterprise we need to be business-like as well as community-minded. It took time to get the ‘business’ side under control, but now, 10 years on we are proud of running a successful small village shop.
However, we are successful as a business because we have volunteers willing to serve behind the counter. It has been a success also because we know our neighbours and we look after one another. Many customers are elderly or infirm, and they know that there is always someone in Tewin Stores café who will put the kettle on, or have a chat.
It’s not a ‘fancy’ shop, but its serves the village well and attracts people from places around, and it has also become a ‘stop off’ point for walkers and cyclists visiting the area.
You do not need to live locally to be welcomed as a volunteer, and if you are able to give us some of your time for a couple of hours each week - you would be richly rewarded in many different ways.
For more information, visit the Tewin Stores website.