April 10, 2013
Jura shoppers breathe more easily
The demise of so many independent retailers from our high streets is often attributed to local shoppers simply ignoring the well-worn mantra of use it or lose it. But at least in the conurbations, with supermarkets seeking out ever smaller retail spaces, the shopper is still relatively well served. By contrast in remote rural Scotland, the closure of the local store can spell disaster. This may explain why there’s a palpable sense of relief on the Isle of Jura.
The 200 residents of Jura have celebrated taking the island’s only shop into community control.
There had been fears it might close when the previous owners found it hard to make it pay and could not find any buyers when they put it up for sale.
The Isle of Jura Development Trust, on behalf of the community, secured funding from the Big Lottery Fund and Highland and Islands Enterprise to purchase the store.
Denise Rozga, chair of Jura Stores Community Interest Company, said: “This is a great opportunity for the community to make the shop successful and life on Jura more sustainable.”
The Isle of Jura Development Trust will use their grant of £653,225 to purchase and redevelop the only convenience store and post office on the island. A greater variety and volume of local food and household goods will be on offer and the future of the shop secured. Employment, training and volunteering opportunities will be available and the need to travel greatly reduced.
Jura Stores is in the centre of Craighouse, the island’s main town. Constructed around 1850 it is a listed building and part of Jura’s heritage. The shop was put on the market last August and with no forthcoming buyers the potential closure of the store prompted the Community Purchase of Jura Stores project.
John Potts, Chairman of the Jura Development Fund, said: “We’re delighted to receive the funding needed to make this project a reality. The grant from Big Lottery Fund Scotland will enable the community to take over ownership of the island’s only shop and refurbish it, making it more accessible and giving it a new lease of life. The shop will be run for the benefit of the community and, with the ongoing support over the first years, we will be able to grow it into a successful and sustainable business which will provide essential goods and services to the island for years to come. Ownership will not simply ‘save the shop’ but will empower the community; increasing its ability to control and influence events and to become confident to take on other challenges and more resilient to future changes.”