Initial options for purchase of the shop/flat were presented by Raphie Kaplinsky (Chair), Chris Arbenz, Nick Lear, Bill Nicholson and Nigel Saxby.
If enough money is pledged, the next step will decide a financial model for participants. Equally important is the need to find a tenant for the shop premises: it won't be sold unless one is in place.
A packed and attentive audience asked a range of questions. Here's a sample:
- Are grants available? If so, which?
- Who valued the shop?
- Is initial working capital needed?
- What about fittings and stock?
- Can the shop be declared a community asset?
- If shares feature, can they be transferred?
- What about crowd funding?
- Can an estate agent help in finding a shop tenant?
- Can an incoming tenant do as he/she wants?
- Who pays for repairs?
- Can a new shopkeeper decide what to stock and what to alter?
- Will a management team - if one is involved - play a part in day to day decisions?
- How about a system where customers buy credits which can only be used in the shop? (A 'Lewes Pound' equivalent)
- Could ownership of a share stay with the house as an attraction to new buyers
- Will investors get a return?
- If a fund accrues from rent, how will it be used?
- Could the shop be run as a charity?
- Could it be a community shop, employing a manager and staffed by volunteers?
- Are rates payable on shop premises?
The presenters gave answers where possible; otherwise they noted the question for investigation later.