Co-op to connect

The Romsey Community Co-Op Shop will aim to connect residents and give them an opportunity to sell their handmade products. Pictured, from left to right, is Judith McKay, Laurie Sklifas, Signy Connell, Shellie Pattle, and Romsey Neighbourhood House co-ordinator Michelle Balthazar.

By Steph McNicol

A MULTIFACETED community hub is set to connect Romsey residents after volunteers worked hard to prepare for the opening of the Romsey Community Co-Op Shop in November.

Romsey Neighbourhood House co-ordinator Michelle Balthazar said the shop opening relied fully on the support of government grants and volunteer work.

The co-op shop will be a hub for community members to visit where they can sell their homemade products, gardening produce, or socialise with the people of Romsey.

“The concept has been going for about three years and we’ve been trying to find a space in Romsey to do it. Over the years we’ve seen, through running our local foodbank, such an increased need of people needing to generate a source of income,” Ms Balthazar said.

“We really hope this will showcase the giftings and talents of our locals. COVID-19 has highlighted the need for us to be supporting our locals.

“The concept is a multifaceted space, so from here we’ll not only be running the shop front, but also the community fruit shed. People who have excess produce can bring it down, swap it, and people can buy, swap, and sell.

“The other aspect is out the back we have a community garden which we’re really wanting to encourage gardeners in our community to sell their products and out the back will be plants for sale.”

Ms Balthazar said the hub would also provide an opportunity for people to trade actions for items.

“People can trade non-monetary acts for items, so people might for example donate time gardening and get a massage in exchange. We’re just trying to create more opportunities and all the proceeds go back into the community,” she said.

“We’ll also be having haircuts at the house out here, and that’s discount cuts as well – all very community minded. We’re just encouraging locals to support locals by buying locally.

“We’ve also received a grant to put in a commercial kitchen for the community who cook, who want to produce things for sale but are restricted because they don’t have anywhere at home commercially.”

To organise for a space in the shop, Ms Balthazar said people needed to call Romsey Neighbourhood House and ask for more details.

“People can just ring the neighbourhood house, no one is too big or too small. We’re just encouraging if you hand-produce or hand-create anything, come and speak to us and we’ve got spaces to rent as well as some spots on consignment,” she said.

“Our philosophy at the neighbourhood house is to see what the needs are of the community and working together towards addressing those needs. Particularly with COVID-19, it’s just increased the urgency and we need longer term solutions.”

For more information or to find out more about the launch of the Romsey Co-Op Shop, 126 Main Street, Romsey, call 5429 6724.

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