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Best Dorset Village Shop Competition 2018

Jo Worsley receiving Dorset Best Village Shop award from Rupert Hardy Jo Worsley receiving Dorset Best Village Shop award from Rupert Hardy © Dorset Echo

28th September 2018

Dorset CPRE was very pleased to be sponsoring again a class of this competition, which we started with Dorset Community Action five years ago.


Village shops face relentless competition from the supermarket chains and discounters, and now they are faced with consolidation too, with Sainsbury’s looking to merge with Asda.

However we can say the shops seem to be holding their own, with fewer closures than in recent years. One clear trend has been for more shops to belong to a symbol group, such as Spar, to help their buying. Another has been the higher proportion of quality local produce on sale, which we wholly applaud, although it is not always clearly marked as such, which is a pity. Overall customers seem more ready to appreciate the local convenience and provenance, and pay for it, as long as the shops are inviting, with friendly staff and enough stock. More shops are offering tea rooms which boosts footfall. Certainly farm shops overall are doing well, and some of these are village shops too being located within villages rather than outside. Another has been the relative success of those located in south Dorset which see more tourists, with numbers boosted by sterling‘s decline after the Brexit Referendum and this year by the heatwave.

Anyway this year our two main contenders were Duck's Farm Shop at Portesham, and Chapel Lane Stores in Abbotsbury.

Duck's Farm Shop, Portesham
Duck's Farm Shop only opened two years ago on the site of a derelict garage. It is a very impressive and attractive farm shop with a lot of money invested in a site much bigger than most village shops, but still located within easy walking distance for residents. It is light and airy with a separate café section using local produce. There is a lot of focus on upmarket deli brands and local foods, but they also sell newspapers and lines of use to locals, as well as tourists. They understand the need for community support and run events for residents every month, such as a Bake Club. The business has also created six full time jobs for locals too. It is very positively reviewed on social media.

Chapel Lane Stores, Abbotsbury
Chapel Lane Stores in this tourist honeypot village was bought by the current owners only four years ago and expanded and refitted in 2016 when the village postmistress retired, thus incorporating a PO counter and extending the range of products on offer, which includes local brands. The premises are bright and airy. Their primary goal is to supply the needs of locals at reasonable prices, although it is well placed for tourists too with a coffee machine inside. Service is very friendly and this is clearly a great asset to the village.

The judges declared Duck's Farm Shop the winner, but Chapel Lane Stores came in as a worthy runner-up. Please do visit these stores, but do also remember all Dorset village shops deserve your support.

Rupert Hardy
One of the judges


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