In response to the unofficial pledgers meeting

We have sent this to our 387 funders at 8pm on Sunday 11th February 2018. We see no reason not to share it openly.

Dear Pledgers,

Just in case you are not aware, there is an unofficial event being run in the New Inn pub, Tywardreath this Thursday at 8pm. The aim is to discuss what our funders should do with their pledge and whether they should continue to support our business, Hunter Grange Investments Ltd, which owns and runs the shop. The event is open to both pledgers and non-pledgers.

The host of the event is Collin Harker, who owns Elmswood House and has pledged a small amount. We emailed Collin before he decided to run the event and have copied our reply below this email. We could not see what he was going to achieve other than causing unnecessary trouble and disruption for our company and the shop.

Importantly though, we have not prevented this meeting from happening. Two years ago we held our first fundraising event in the pub, after the shop had been on the market for two years and there was hardly any enthusiasm within the community to run it themselves. It’s great to see there is now more interest since we have tripled its turnover.

In October, we contacted all our pledgers with an email including a poll. We asked the question ‘Would you be interested in being involved in a community venture that owns part or all of the shop premises?’

A majority of 44.2% of responders voted for the following – ‘No I’m not interested in community ownership of the shop, as long as it stays a shop I don’t mind what you do.’

We made a date to run another meeting in January however we had to postpone it; we did inform everyone that both Josh and I would be in the shop all weekend if anyone had any questions. We are also physically running the shop every day and lots of our funders see us in there most days so we are hardly inaccessible or unavailable and the shop is clearly thriving.

Due to this unofficial event however, we have suffered another barrage of abuse via social media and Collin has visited the shop to push us into attending the meeting.

We will not be attending this meeting and would rather concentrate of making sure the shop remains a successful business but please feel free to go along and show your support for the shop (or not), voice your questions and if it’s possible, come to a mutual agreement of your intentions. We will happily take on board any feedback.

Below are several thoughts from our point of view on what options are available to all our funders however we feel the simplest question at this time is to ask pledgers if they want to keep their money in or take it out when their loan contract ends:

Ideally, we want to be left alone to get on with living here and growing our business and continuing to give the community a really useful and socially beneficial village shop. If people want their money back we can raise it to repay them. If people proactively sabotage our business, we will choose to repay them. Those who remain supportive and allow us to continue with our progress will have the option to keep their money invested for a further 2 years at 6% annual interest while we continue to grow the business and they will have an active say in deciding who leases the shop business from us and the first option to own the freehold if and when it is sold.

Alternatively, pledgers could form a committee and venture of their own, raise the money and lease the premises to run the shop under their management. The lease value will be at the current market rate as valued by an independent surveyor at the time of commercially leasing it from us.

If the intention is to push us out of the village and we are not trusted or supported by our pledgers then we will go but we will not be leaving a debt behind us as the value of the property and our business is now higher than the debt owed to the pledgers. This would mean we would consider putting the shop up for sale. Again this could be bought by the community; we would give our funders the first option before opening it to the wider marketplace.

We have already repaid £200k early to funders on top of what we were due to pay back by now and so far we have managed to do this without raising any commercial loans or selling our shares. To those with concerns about the capital in the business, Trudy can personally raise more money on her own assets that are worth more than the total debt outstanding in Hunter Grange Ltd and there are more local people prepared to fund us to replace any early repayments or loans that we feel ought to be terminated.

We are currently raising money to terminate several loan agreements early as we have reasons to believe the actions of these people are intentionally out to damage our business. We will notify them this week and will be repaying them in the coming weeks.

We are more interested in keeping our very successful shop running and we have better things to do than allow a small group of people damage us or the shop for everyone else in this community. We will keep persisting with what we feel is best for everyone involved in this venture and we thank the majority who do continue to support us.

To allow the shop to operate without disruption we are not accepting new requests for early repayment of funding until the 31st of March 2018.

All the best,

Trudy and Josh
 

Reply to Collin Harker regarding running a public event:

29th January 2018

Dear Collin

We are too busy to host an event or even commit to a date right now.

We don’t know what your meeting will achieve if it happens without us and if you don’t mind we would rather not be kept fully informed. If people want to pull their money out of funding us then so be it. It is probably better that we distance ourselves from being involved in such a discussion.

You just do what feels right for you and anyone else who wants to meet up. We wouldn’t dream of stopping you or anyone else talking about us, the shop or our business. If this is your will, then so be it.

We have resigned ourselves to accept that while we could silence all the rumours at once by sharing the facts publicly it won’t damage us but other people more.

We think for the future of the shop that it is probably better we stay focused on running the shop and living here in peace because we are fairly certain that will turn out to be much more important to everyone in this village in the long run.

Trudy and Josh

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