We moved into Otterton just over a year ago from a large town in Berkshire, and it seemed that by volunteering in the local community shop we had the ideal opportunity to ease ourselves into village life, which is what both wanted.
Indeed, my husband and I have not been disappointed. It was an ideal way to become part of the community and get to know people, whilst hopefully helping in the process.
We had never worked in a shop before, but with lots of enthusiasm and some trepidation, we learnt how to manage the workings of the till, keep the shelves well presented, check the fridges for coming out of date stock, check fridge temperatures, clean or dust (sometimes!) and, of course, serve the customers. There is always something to keep you busy. Yes, odd things happen or we incorrectly enter an item on the till, but help is always on hand and there are many smiles and laughs along the way.
Our customers have been wonderful and very patient with us novice volunteers. But it has been a delight meeting so many different people and lovely to help some of the more elderly customers where we can almost be a personal shopper, or the young children who we can encourage to work out how many different sweets they can buy with their 50p. We can give that little bit extra!
Working in the shop has also altered my own shopping habits. The shop now has an excellent range of produce, including fresh meat, vegetables and fruit and most prices are quite competitive. Whereas I used to do one big supermarket shop a week, I now make my weekly list and then look to see which of those items I can buy at our community shop. These are then bought there, and that way we are supporting the shop and our local producers with more than just purchasing the occasional pint of milk.
So one year on, we have felt welcomed and supported by the community shop team. We have learnt new skills, made new friends and look forward to another year of new initiatives and new products that keep the shop a vibrant and very important part of the Otterton community and also those beyond.