Bread, groceries, coffee … Every day, about twenty people, both young and active retirees of Villepôt (Loire-Atlantique) ensures the opening of the only shop of the village
Pierre Guerrois has a smile on his face. This project is a bit of a baby. Just three months ago, he founded, along with other residents of Villepôt, close to Châteaubriant (Loire-Atlantique) , the association Le Commerce villepôtais. As its name indicates, this one aims at ensuring the functioning of the only local trade of the municipality. A boon for the 700 inhabitants, who no longer have to walk miles to get bread.
“The goal, for us, was to revive the village, says Pierre Guerrois, just 60 years old and retired from the Foundry and General Mechanics castelbriantaise (FMGC). There is no bar in the town, so we wanted to keep this place to maintain the exchanges and the social bond. ”
It must be said that in the space of six years, the latter, managed by several owners, has experienced a ups and downs. “For about fifteen years, there was a bakery here. When the manager left, about six years ago, he left a bread deposit. ”
“A small nucleus has been formed”
Another business then took possession of the premises. ” It did not work. In October 2015, the baker from Saint-Aubin des Chateau still ensured the deposit of bread and other products, but because of his health problems in 2017, he put his business on sale. “His replacement does not want to travel for miles to ensure supplies.
For the municipality, owner of the building, the hope of finding another manager diminishes. “They wanted to take a contract helped, but it could not be done because of new reforms of the state,” says Pierre. It is the association of the school canteen that volunteers. After six months, from October 2017 to April 2018, she forfeits. “It took a lot of time and it was difficult for them to get up to standard …”
Weary and saddened by this situation, Pierre and his acolytes decide to take the plunge
“Little by little, a nucleus was formed and an association was set up. It took several months, we had to create the statutes, make statements and analyze the accounts … The municipality organized public meetings and polls to find out what people thought. “
Encouraged from all sides, the members of the office launch themselves and open the doors of the grocery store. “At that time, we only made bread, wine, eggs and honey. Since then, the shelves have filled up well. The grocery section, with its basic products such as milk, sugar or oil, has come to complete the offer.
“We refuel at Leclerc Chateaubriant. We make a margin of 10% and we round the prices to 0.5, adds the president. We are also trying to get local producers to work. The bread comes from the Martigné-Ferchaud bakery , the Villepôt honey, the Rougé wine and the Sudanese eggs . For two weeks, newspapers have also their place on the stalls.
“People take turns”
In total, there are twenty to constitute “the trade team”. All take turns according to the hours of the shop of the week and the weekend.
“The week is a lot of young retirees, says Pierre, who manages the planning and the wine stock. On weekends, however, we give way to assets. Everyone has a bit of a role … It’s essential for the organization. “
Behind the counter, his wife, Claudine, 63, is on duty to serve customers. “Before, I was a saleswoman in a bakery in Châteaubriant , so it does not change me so much! She laughs. Behind her, about fifty chopsticks are offered for sale. “People are asked to order and 20 are put aside just in case. ”
At lunchtime, the room is always full. We take the time to chat, wand under the arm, sipping a coffee. Marianne Minieu, a resident of the town, just bought her bread: “I come more or less regularly. Everyone is happy in Villepôt, it’s 100% positive, and we especially want to thank those who devote themselves every day. At his side, Peter shines.
“People play the game, that’s right. Many even come from other municipalities! Everyone tells us it’s great. It was a nice surprise for us, we did not expect such a return. “
As for the next step, it will consist of enriching the list of products offered in the grocery section. Baskets of seasonal vegetables could also be offered as the seasons go by. ” We leave ourselves three months and then we will make a balance,” concludes the president of the association. One thing is sure, at this rate, Villepôt could become a model to follow in the fight against the desertification of businesses.
Le Commerce villepotais is open every day, except Wednesdays, from 8 am to 1 pm Weekend from 9 am to 1 pm Contact: 02 28 04 37 63. Orders must be made before noon.