There’s a new name on Shropshire’s high streets after a county-based charity opened its first ever set of shops.
The Rural Charity is a new arm of the Shropshire and West Midlands Agricultural Society, and has opened furniture and household shops in Shrewsbury, Wem and Oswestry.
The shops were formerly operated by Relate and closed when the Shropshire branch of the charity ran into difficulty in October.
But they are now open again under the new banner of The Rural Charity, selling second-hand furniture and other items, with all profits going to help farming and the rural community of Shropshire.
The shops opened their doors in December and society director, Ian Bebbington, said they had seen a lot of customers already.
“We have had a fantastic start,” he said. “The shops were already well-established and we have kept the majority of staff and volunteers to help with the continuity.
“The society has never done anything like this before so it has been a steep learning curve for us, but it’s going really well so far.
“The aim of the shops is to provide extra income so we can do more work to support the rural community in Shropshire – which is exactly what the society was established to do in 1875.
“We want to be able to make donations to people who need retraining or financial support, as well as being able to help the society’s supported schemes such as the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution and the National Young Farmer’s organisation.”
The Shropshire and West Midlands Agricultural Society is best known for managing the Greenhous West Mid Showground and organising the Shropshire County Show – formerly the West Mid Show.
It ran into financial difficulties itself in 2010, but the trustees and management have steered the society to the point where there is plenty of optimism about the future.
Mr Bebbington said: “It’s real phoenix from the flames stuff, and it’s all down to the hard work and commitment of a fantastic group of volunteers, as well as the support of the public.
“We see this new retail venture as the next stage of our development and really hope that people will continue to support us.”
The Greenhous West Mid Showground holds regular car boot sales which are very popular, and people are being encouraged to donate any unsold items to the shops.
“At the end of the day it’s all for a good cause and we have been delighted with the response,” Mr Bebbington added.
The Rural Charity shops are in Whitchurch Road in Shrewsbury, Wem High Street and Albion Hill in Oswestry.
Anyone who would like to donate items can take them to the Greenhous West Mid Showground in Shrewsbury, or call 01743 289831 to arrange collection.
For more information, find The Rural Charity on Facebook at www.facebook.com/