We spoke to Deborah about all things Craft Coop. Craft Coop is a Community interest company which began 10 years ago as a simple Christmas Craft Fair and now has four shops including one in The Square in Camberley, which arrived in November 2019. Craft Coop supports local craftspeople by giving them a place to sell and promote their crafts. Most of the products are handcrafted locally and the majority of craftspeople featured live within 30 miles of the stores. Over 100 craftspeople are supported across their four stores and they have a 300 person strong mailing list. All of the employees are volunteering local craftspeople themselves; when you go to the store you can often talk to the person who actually made the craft you want to buy –something of a rarity!
COVID posed challenges as many of their craftspeople, and therefore volunteers, were vulnerable, shielding, or looking after young children. There was difficultly finding people who could man the shop even after the easing of restrictions. Their stores are now beginning to open up with reduced hours in various locations. However, lockdown has provided the push to get their products online. Now they can support craftspeople all over the country and give them more exposure to the wider public. Their online shop can be found here: https://www.craftcoopshop.co.uk/
A big part of what Craft Coop does is support local micro/’kitchen table’ businesses. Not only do they offer these businesses a place to sell their goods, but they also run mentoring, workshops and have created a social support network through Facebook, which runs several events such as coffee mornings and social get togethers. They also get involved with projects in the local community: “in Maidenhead, where we’re more established, we are involved in a lot of charity work, projects with the homeless, regeneration, and support for Independent shops...We haven’t really made connections like this in Camberley, but we definitely hope to.
Craft Coop is all about supporting the local community and so, unsurprisingly, they’re passionate about shopping local: “the people who own and work in indie shops are part of the community –they’re friends and neighbours –and it’s important to look out for one another and make sure the community thrives.” By supporting local businesses we all support each other and as Craft Coop says: “Indie shops make the community more vibrant, more interesting, more caring, and I think –a happier place to be.” To find out more about Craft Coop, go to: https://www.craftcoop.co.uk/