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Kent Food Retailer of the Year Winner: Detling Community Store

Detling Community Store is at the heart of Detling village and was set up two years ago (as a Community Interest Company).

Detling Jam

Detling Community Store is at the heart of Detling village and was set up two years ago (as a Community Interest Company).

The store was founded by a group of Detling villagers, who recognised the need for a store to serve the village and surrounding areas after having been without a village shop for 10 years.

From the start, it was agreed that we would stock a range of refillable products to support our commitment to sustainability and we would support and showcase Kent producers, stocking as much local produce as possible and employing a manager, supported by a number of volunteer sales assistants.

The start-up funding for the store came from individual and corporate sponsors, grants from the parish council, Kent Community Foundation, KCC Leader and The Prince's Countryside Fund.

We are a community store serving the community of Detling and the surrounding villages, as well as walkers, cyclists and pilgrims on the North Downs Way.

We wanted to ensure that the store became a hub for the community. Thanks to the generosity of the parish council we were able to site the store on the Old School Field, overlooking the children's playground and next to the village hall, so it has become a meeting place and stop-off point for cyclists and walkers and provides refreshment for parents while watching their children play in the park.

Just two months after we opened, the first Covid lockdown happened. Because of our incredible manager, and dedicated team of volunteers the store became the go-to place for local residents, and whilst the supermarkets ran out of stocks of toilet roll and pasta, our shelves remained fully stocked.

Because there are many elderly and vulnerable residents in the village, we also implemented a free Covid-safe delivery service (staffed by volunteers) and set up a network of people to contact for help with collecting medical supplies and prescriptions, or just to talk to. We were subsequently awarded a grant by Maidstone Borough Council to deliver more than 100 free food parcels to the disadvantaged in Detling, Thurnham and Boxley. We have received a second grant from MBC to repeat the delivery of free food parcels in 2022.

The store is run by our manager, plus more than 20 regular volunteers (including a Duke of Edinburgh student) who keep the shelves stocked, operate the Post Office, serve from the café and clean the store.

We welcome visitors of all kinds and have a free cycle repair station, local Ordinance Survey maps for the explorers, and fresh water and treats for our furry friends.

We are committed to showcase and sell Kent produce and local businesses. Whatever we can buy from Kent we do. Our aspiration was to become a destination store for customers from the village and outside wanting to buy local products and so our guiding principle from the start was to stock as wide a range of local produce as possible.