GENERAL APPEARANCE: Roughly in the centre of a triangle comprising Lincoln, Gainsborough and Retford, is the village of Rampton and R&R Motors and Linda’s Convenience Store, which is also known as Rampton Service Station.
Linda and Richard Sheppard, the owners of Rampton Service Station, were awarded a ’My Shop is Your Shop’ Community Retailing award in May. Described as a "lifeline for local people", the business is celebrating around 40 years of service to the community.
FORECOURT: The WCF-branded pole includes a menu of services provided by RR Motors and Linda’s Convenience Store. A single pump supplies unleaded and diesel and is operated by assistants when drivers call at the shop.
Fuel costs are higher than average but it is provided very much as a service to the local community. A sit-on lawn mower was being refuelled during my visit!
MOT testing, servicing and repairs workshops are located in newish-looking buildings and appear busy.
A bottled gas service is available and a community notice board.
A corner of the forecourt next to the shop is to be re-laid to provide space for a table and chairs for customers to catch up with village activities a welcome initiative.
SHOP: The shop has recently been extended and refurbished and the fascia is brightly branded ’Today’s Local’ over the name Linda’s Convenience Store. In a covered lobby at the shop’s entrance are a newspaper stand, a Lottery play slip desk, and a display stand of pocket money children’s toys.
Once inside the shop, a Cuisine de France stand is straight ahead to tempt shoppers. Not much of a selection is available at around midday on the day of my visit. Close by is a chiller containing a well-presented range of prepacked produce (most seemed to be Heritage brand).
The clean and tidy shop has a wide range of convenience category products but it is difficult to identify local products although I was able to buy a sandwich branded Snax, which was freshly made locally. Workers at the nearby hospital and power station drop in for sandwiches and ready meals.
The till area is at the end of the shop and here it widens to display further products and, in particular, a good range of beers, wines and spirits. The in-store ATM charges for transactions.
There are no customer toilet facilities available.
Staff were very friendly and helpful, and obviously have a good rapport with shoppers.
PROGNOSIS: Reports indicate that Linda and Richard Sheppard started their business in 1973 and are about to celebrate 40 years of service to their community. They have made a significant investment helped in part by a rural grant in the development of their garage and shop. Not finished yet, a new website and online ordering service are planned.
DIAGNOSIS: Both RR Motors and Linda’s Convenience Store are exceptional businesses having grown and survived in a rural location. All this despite the intense growth and competition exerted by the multiple trade.
I expect much of the success is down to Linda and Richard’s personality and their passion for providing a service to their neighbours especially the elderly, who they will deliver to.
PRESCRIPTION: Most of the trade for both sides of the business relies on local custom. The opportunity to develop a ’passing trade’ is limited, but full marks for an advertising board near the junction of the road leading to the village. Perhaps the local authority could be persuaded to erect a number of ’brown signs’ for ’local garage and village shop’?
Exploit non-village custom by developing loyalty schemes for workers from the local hospital and power station.
Develop further the link with local suppliers.
Get recognised by and listed on the ’experiencenottinghamshire’ website. ’Makinglocalfoodwork’ and ’nottsnosh’ may be helpful websites to visit too.
If not already available, introduce a hot drinks service. Review the ATM service and contemplate the advantages of a free-to-use system.
Press on with the Linda’s website and continue to promote the great brand of Linda on every occasion.