Who are you and what do you do?
We are Itteringham Village Shop and we are a small community run general store, café and Post Office in rural North Norfolk. Our unique claim is that there has been a shop recorded on the same site, trading continuously since 1637. According to the Daily Mail that makes us the fourth oldest shop in the country still trading.
Where are you based?
We nestle in the centre of the village of Itteringham, on the edge of the Blickling Estate.
How long have you been going?
As a community run shop since 1994, but with a heritage back to 1637.
Who is involved in the running and organisation of it all?
The overall responsibility for the shop rests with the Itteringham Community Association, but it functions on a daily basis via a rota of daily managers and volunteers overseen by a co-ordinator.
What can we find on the shelves?
It’s tempting to say come and find out!
We enjoy the squeals of delight from customers who are surprised to find such interesting items on our shelves. We take pride in selling tasty local products which can range from Rare Breed pork pies, cheeses, dairy produce and honey to cold pressed oils, chocolate tiffin and courgette and lime cake!
Anything special coming up for Christmas?
Yes we do. Recognising the hesitancy of some customers to venture into crowded areas to shop because of Covid, we decided to gather together a range of useful gifts to help people safely complete their Xmas purchases. We have mohair socks, art cards, scented soaps, candles, tapers, fragranced room candles, gardening string, luxury cookies, chocolates, the list goes on.
How important is local, seasonal produce to what you offer? And is it ethically sourced, sustainable etc?
Selling local produce is vitally important because it supports local businesses, helps build communities, and puts money back into the local economy. How it is produced is important to us – we look to sell products that are free range, rare breed, organic and sustainable. Even our bags of logs come from felled trees which have been pulled through sustainable woodland by a Suffolk Punch horse who I think is called Alex.
We hear you have a café, too?
Our café has been very popular with tourists, cyclists and walkers and is seen very much as the oasis in a desert. Again it’s gratifying to hear the audible relief of some walkers who, unaware of our existence, are relieved to see the unexpected possibility of a pot of tea and slice of cake. Covid measures obviously have cut this to a takeaway service but that will eventually return to normal.
Any future plans you can share with us?
We have our eyes on the village bus stop, it could make a very useful covered shelter for visitors unable to come into the shop café. If it were redecorated it might make a very pleasant alternative stopping off point out of the wintry rain!
How has Proudly Norfolk been able to help you?
Proudly Norfolk bangs the drum for local produce, food producers and retailers. The use of social media keeps members’ names in front of potential customers. Proudly Norfolk stickers and banners are a useful sales aid in shops. But just like our Village Shop it is a sense of community and belonging that is the glue that holds us all together through the difficult as well as the goodtimes.