about us

Built, owned and run by the community

Following the example of many other community shops, Galleries Shop & Café is owned and run by the community.

There are now four employees – our shop managers Emily and Nanneke and our café managers Charlie and Mandie. Much of the work – like receiving deliveries, serving behind the till, serving lunches or coffees, restocking the shelves, finding new products to stock – is done by volunteers. Some eighty people help out in one way or another.  Apart from working in the shop, there is the bookkeeping to do, the many handyman’s jobs, cashing up at night, looking after our bank account and planning ahead to keep the range of goods and services fresh and appealing.

We always welcome new helpers.  Read about our Volunteers.

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The old Limpley Stoke shop

The Galleries Shop & Café came about because both Freshford and Limpley Stoke had lost their shops. Limpley Stoke’s Shop closed in 2005, Freshford’s was still open but its closure had been announced.

People felt a shop was a must and a group of us got together to see if this could be achieved.

The old Freshford Shop

The old Freshford Shop


Step One was a public meeting to gauge the level of commitment to a shop.


This was done by asking people to agree to spend a certain amount of money every month – IF the shop were to stock the items they wanted to buy.  We called this approach “Reverse Credit”.

They were also asked whether they would be willing to work in the shop as volunteers, and if they might make a financial contribution towards a shop, and if they might be willing to serve on a management committee. People were very ready to commit to one or more of these!

Efforts were made first to take over the Limpley Stoke shop, later the Freshford one – but these attempts failed because neither building was available at an affordable price.

Instead, fundraising activities were organised, grants were applied for and a big drive for capital donations from within the community was undertaken. People rose to the challenge. A piece of land was found, and a shop designed. Planning permission took a while to get because the site – although right next to Freshford Village Hall – was in the greenbelt. But it was achieved! The result is an environmentally sound, well insulated, well ventilated building – small enough to be affordable yet large enough to accommodate a broad range of goods.

A survey was conducted to find out just what people wanted to buy – and almost everything on that list was on the shelves when the Galleries Shop & Café opened its doors on Wednesday 4th August 2009.

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The shop opens!

On Saturday 12th September 2009, the grand opening took place!  Everyone was there.  Hugh Delap, speaking for both Parish Councils, addressed a large crowd – and introduced Midge Ure who had kindly agreed to do the honours for us.

You can watch a recording of the proceedings here.

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Freshford & Limpley Stoke Community Association (FLiSCA)

Galleries Shop & Café is constituted as an ordinary limited company BUT it is 100% owned and governed by the Freshford & Limpley Stoke Community Association (FLiSCA).

FLiSCA is a registered charity – charity number 1129476 – with the following objectives (for full text, please see www.charitycommission.gov.uk):

  • providing or assisting to provide facilities for recreation or other leisure time occupation in the interests of social welfare
  • the relief of need particularly amongst those who are elderly, disabled, young or experiencing financial hardship and
  • the advancement of education for the public benefit.

FLiSCA set up the shop with the help of generous donations from residents, fundraising events, and large and small grants from many different organisations.  Any surplus from the shop goes back to FLiSCA for spending on its charitable purposes. FLiSCA’s charitable status means that gift aid was available on the many private donations received.  It also means that no corporation tax is payable on any profit achieved by the shop.

FLiSCA is a membership organisation with currently 135 members. Membership is open to all residents of Freshford and Limpley Stoke. Its Board of Trustees is re-elected annually at its AGM (usually in November) where the year’s accounts are presented and members are consulted on the spending of FLiSCA’s funds on community projects.

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FLiSCA Trustees and funders

FLiSCA currently has eight Trustees, Simon Coombe (chair), Caroline Biebuyck, Lee Newlyn, Florence Rothman, Annette Sharpe, Ruth Fulton, Chloe Alexander, Wags Firmin and Patrick Dawson.

FLiSCA would like to thank the following organisations for their generous financial assistance:

  • The Rural Renaissance Programme (SWRDA)
  • The Village Core Programme (Plunkett Foundation)
  • Lottery Awards for All
  • Freshford Parish Council
  • Medlock Trust
  • Comma Fund
  • Onestop Stores
  • Friends of Freshford
  • Limpley Stoke Events Committee
  • Limpley Stoke Parish Council, and
  • Coooperative & Community Finance (loan).

We particularly thank all the many people in Freshford and Limpley Stoke who gave so generously of their money, their skills and their time to make it all possible.

Over ten successful financial years, FLiSCA has been able to award a large number of small and larger grants for community projects.  See the FLiSCA page of this website for more detail on how the money is spent and how to apply for grants.

Contact FLiSCA on Tel 01225 722424 (Malcolm Shirley) or email us.

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The Galleries Team

Our managers are helped by a small group of key volunteers who have taken responsibility for specific areas of the shop and café management.

All can be reached via galleriesteam@galleriesshop.co.uk or by leaving a telephone message for them at the shop (Tel 01225 723249).

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Volunteers are still always welcome. There are a great variety of jobs to do.  Longer and shorter shifts in the shop itself are available where you might be baking, serving behind the till,  serving café customers or stacking shelves; or taking on specific tasks such as ordering goods and receiving and checking orders.  Jobs away from the shopfloor may include researching new products, journeys to purchase goods, building and repairing things,  and watering our herb garden!

We ask you to complete a volunteer form and to attend a brief training session. The day is typically split into three shifts but shorter different shifts can be tailored to your availability.  A rota of who is on duty when is maintained online and accessible to all volunteers for reference and updating.  An irregular newsletter called The Pinny goes to all volunteers and an occasional party brings us all together.

Email us or speak to our manager Emily Wollacott in the shop if you would like to be part of this lively group.

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Facts and figures

A tenthsuccessful year of operation ended in August 2019.  We thank our volunteers and customers for their continued support of our community business. Turnover – now over £6500 per week – is more than double what we had forecast in our original business plan.  Over 200 customers visit the shop every day.  We have managed to keep our prices low although there is, of course, no competing with the supermarkets who benefit from bulk buying.  Still, a shopping basket comparison of 25 standard items showed us to be just 6% more expensive than Sainsbury’s.  

Our 60+ suppliers range from people in our villages making cakes, soups, quiches, salads and scones and local artists and photographers contributing greeting cards and the Freshford calendar, to nearby farms, breweries, and other local producers.  The bulk of our standard groceries come from a wholesaler’s branch in Bristol.

Our customers are mostly locals – people who live in Freshford and Limpley Stoke – and  parents of children attending Freshford School and the Pre-school at the Village Hall. But neighbouring villagers have also discovered us. The No 94 bus conveniently passes through Westwood, Freshford, Limpley Stoke and Monkton Combe at convenient intervals – giving you an hour to shop and to have a cup of coffee between arrival and the return journey.

Due to generous publicity in the press, a recent Council Connect magazine, the Archers on the radio, and even The Great British Menu on BBC2, the shop also attracts people from much further away.  In 2011 we won Best Independent Retailer in the Bath Business Awards.  With its pleasant café our shop makes a good destination for a walk or a bike ride to the area.

In 2013 we managed to get a £50,000 grant from the Big Lottery’s Village SOS programme which we used to “stretch” our building to expand our café.  We now have much better kitchen facilities and more seating and have been able to enhance our lunchtime menu considerably.

We like cooperating with other community shops in the area and often receive visitors keen to start up their own shop who like to find out how we do things.

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The Reverse Credit Scheme

Our local customers help the shop’s cashflow by paying a regular set amount (at their discretion) into the shop each month by standing order, which they can then spend as the month goes by.

Some 132 village households avail themselves of this Scheme.  They find it convenient not to have to carry money even when walking out with the dog and wanting to stop for a coffee.  It also means they can send their children shopping for them, or their visitors, without cash being involved.  The number of Reverse Credit customers is still growing, and families often find, as they get accustomed to shopping at Galleries regularly, that they need to increase their monthly amount or else top up their accounts half-way through! Amounts committed range from £20 to £350 per month.

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