More Than A Shop logo under red & white canopy and framed by photos of community shop images

More Than A Shop is a Rural Coffee Caravan initiative which acknowledges the vital role Suffolk’s rural shops play in helping to address loneliness and isolation across the county. We celebrate them for going above and beyond for their local communities.

More Than A Shop aims to inspire local shops to be more than just provisions stores, encouraging them to be places of friendship, welcome and connection.

The coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak altered the way we shop. Our local stores, particularly those in rural villages, came to the forefront during the pandemic, with staff and volunteers being recognised as essential, front-line, key workers. They helped to care for and sustain our rural communities.

These stores

  • Coped with increased demand for particular items.
  • Offered home deliveries to customers needing to stay home or self isolate.
  • Managed small teams of staff and volunteers who may have had to take necessary time off to quarantine themselves or take care of their families.
  • Provided extra services outside their usual remit, such as helping with pharmacy collections. 
  • Became an important source of social connection for people who were unable to leave their homes.
  • Became a vital service for the more vulnerable and elderly residents, and for those shielding and self isolating.

They did all this with great heart, empathy and enthusiasm, working long hours, whilst facing uncertainty for their own future. Many rural stores continue to go the extra mile, both in and out of lockdowns.

The gallery below displays some of the rural Suffolk stores who have been nominated by their communities for the outstanding service they have provided to them, before, during, and beyond lockdown.

image of Rural Coffee Caravan More Than Shop flyer (front)

Is your community store  #MoreThanAShop?

For some people, visiting their local shop is a huge part of their social contact, maybe their ONLY contact. Many village stores are able to provide extra services, home deliveries and that much needed regular, friendly connection. They are life-lines for many Suffolk residents.

We need to celebrate & support our local shops more than ever! If your local shop is #MoreThanAShop, please let us know about the ways in which they are supporting your community. We would like to thank them for what they are doing, send them a certificate to recognise the kindness and friendship they offer, and add them to our gallery! Print/share our More Than A Shop flyer via this link or the image link. 

All #MoreThanAShop stores will receive a lovely window sticker to display, along with their certificate.

On Monday 25th November 2019 we launched the initiative at the Somersham & District Community Shop, Suffolk, with the help of their MeetUpMondays™ group!

Here’s a few words from Rural Coffee Caravan Founder Sally Fogden and Suffolk County Councillor James Finch as to why this simple idea can make such a big difference to local communities…

If you run a shop in a rural Suffolk community, we would love to hear from you!

Do you find that customers come in to your store seeking advice or help and you’re not sure where to direct them to? We can help. 

Do you have a space in your shop which could become a little ‘coffee corner’, providing a reason for customers to tarry a little while for a hot brew and a chat? 

CoffeeLink logo

The wonderful team at CoffeeLink of Ipswich are kindly offering their support to this initiative! CoffeeLink are long standing supporters of the Rural Coffee Caravan and generously provide us with the delicious ground coffee we take out on our village visits. They are able to provide a Bravilor Bonamat Quick Filter Coffee Machine for £200 (inc. VAT), and 25% off CoffeeLink coffee, to any rural Suffolk shop joining the More Than A Shop initiative. This includes an additional hot plate and a 1 year warranty for the machine.

image of coffee machine
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Thank you for all that you are doing to help keep the members of your community safe, connected, well and stocked with essentials.

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