Community buy-out considered as Yetholm shop owners hope to retire

Owners of Yetholm's village shop Barbara and Roy Maltby.
Owners of Yetholm's village shop Barbara and Roy Maltby.

A community buy-out of Yetholm’s only general store could be on the cards if plans being made by a takeover group get off the ground.

The village store and post office was put up for sale by owners of seven years Roy and Barbara Maltby at the end of last year.

And now a number of residents are looking into a possible takeover bid.

It’s an idea which both Barbara, 72, and Roy, 76, are fully supportive of.

“The shop is a lifeline for the village,” Barbara said. “With the banks closing left, right and centre, the post office branch within the store is very important and acts as a bank, really.

“People do want the shop and post office and all that goes with it, but people still need to be alert and aware that you need to use it or you really could lose it.”

Roy, a former industrial chemist with an American oil company, and Barbara, who is an ex-benefits manager for a national accountancy firm, bought the shop in 2012 after moving to the village with the aim of retiring.

“There was a question mark over the future of the shop as Ruby had just retired at the time,” Barbara said. “Roy and I thought we were young enough that we would be able to take it on.

“We galloped to the rescue, bought the building and have run the shop since.”

In 2014 they added a 20-seat cafe upstairs and a year later the post office branch was added.

When they closed the coffee shop due to staff implications last November, the shop, which employs six part-time staff, was put on the market once again.

Barbara added: “We had interest in the beginning but it died off. Then, without prompting, the community got together and approached us about this potential takeover.

“It’s being initiated and led by people who have experience this. We absolutely support the idea.”

The Yetholm Community Shop Group is inviting folk keen to learn more about the potential project to a public meeting in the Youth Hall on Monday, August 26, at 7.30pm.

Spokesman Alastair Hirst said: “An acquisition by the community may be an ideal way to continue this key part of village life.

“If there is sufficient interest then work on a number of preliminary stages are likely, including documenting community support and ideas, creating a business plan and sorting out property surveys, insurance, accountancy, legal and other professional input as required.”

The initial members of the management committee are locals Alastair Hirst, Susan Stewart, Graeme Wallace and John Stobart.

They are encouraging others to join the group.

“There is no intention at present to have any charge for membership,” Alastair added. “For the community buy-out to take place grant funding will be required and some preliminary contacts with sources of grant funding, including for technical assistance in the preliminary stage, have begun.”

Sign-up forms will be available at the public meeting.