Caught shopping...at Court Shopping
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Customers living at Bromford's Beacon Court were bubbling over with excitement at the opening of their new indoor convenience shop.
They were offered a sip of sparkling bucks fizz to celebrate the first day of trading at Court Shopping in the indoor "high street" linking Beacon Court with Sedgley's Beacon Centre for the Blind, near Wolverhampton.
Local singer Maggie O'Hara was invited to perform the official opening ceremony on Friday morning (March 4) and first customer, Wendy Harley, was rewarded with a £5 shopping voucher.
The Bromford-backed venture is a real-life example of Big Society that will see visually impaired residents busy on both sides of the counter - serving each other and popping in to buy bread, milk and other essentials.
Judging by the big turn-out of customers on the first day of business, this Black Country version of television's The People's Supermarket is a big hit.
"This is very much a community effort - and our customers absolutely love it," says Bromford Support scheme co-ordinator Jo Wright. "We took more than £50 in the first hour and the customers just kept coming."
Bromford Support is managing the shop but day-to-day chores like stocking shelves will be carried out by a rota of enthusiastic volunteer residents.
Till training and guidance on everything from using the pricing gun to checking expiry dates means the eager volunteers are ready to handle everything that comes their way between 10am and 3pm on week days.
"We all loved the idea of calling it Court Shopping, but as well as asking them for naming ideas, customers have been invited to tell us what items they want to see on the shelves," says Jo. "Best of all, the shop is being run by volunteers. It's a great way to see customers involved in this exciting new venture and we really hope they use it."
Bromford Support bought a glass-fronted freezer to stand alongside the fridge so that the shop can stock oven chips and ready meals as well as the tins, packets and bottles that will meet most day-to-day needs.
This will save residents the bother of walking or catching a bus to the nearest private shop.
Prices are pitched so that Court Shopping should make a small operating profit, all of which will be reinvested in stock.
Court Shopping will also be open to service users from Beacon Centre for the Blind and to people from the wider community. It will be open Monday to Friday, from 10am to 3pm.
The People's Supermarket is a Channel 4 series centred around anew co-op-style supermarket launched by chef Arthur Potts Dawson. It relies heavily on volunteers, who get 10% off their shopping bills in return.
For more information about Beacon Centre for the Blind visit www.beacon4blind.co.uk