The owners of a St Helens convenience store are making a long-lasting impact in their local community, thanks to their generosity and willingness to support local causes and initiatives.
Husband and wife team Bisi and Mayo Osundeko run the Go Local store on Junction Lance in Sutton, and since taking over the store in December 2021, the couple have become a key part of the local community, not only for keeping the area supplied with essential supplies but also for their generous community spirit.
The Go Local store is the couples’ first convenience store, they have considerable retail experience, having built up leading online babycare brand Joy and Joe Baby, named after their children. The award-winning brand is one of the leading baby wrap brands on Amazon.
The store, on Junction Lane in Sutton, was officially opened with a ribbon-cutting ceremony carried out by the Mayor of St Helens, Cllr Sue Murphy. Originally, the premises, which had been a convenience store and post office for over 20 years, had fallen into disrepair and needed refurbishment.
Working closely with Parfetts, Bisi and Mayo, undertook significant store improvements and retained its Post Office, which is an integral part of the local community.
In addition to running the busy store, the couple have launched numerous community initiatives. They actively support the nearby Saxton Lane food bank with food donations twice a week. Over 5,000 grocery items have been donated so far, with customers in the store encouraged to buy and donate items to the food bank when they pick up their groceries.
The couple also started a popular book club in-store to raise funds. Customers donate books, which are displayed in a corner of the shop, and books can be taken in exchange for a voluntary donation. Bisi came up with the idea for the book club to try and improve reading skills and tackle the problem of adult illiteracy in the area. All funds generated by the scheme go towards supporting Saxton Lane food bank project.
A partnership with local school Mill Green also provides young adults with learning disabilities with valuable work experience opportunities. Young adults have been offered the chance to work in the store under the supervision of Bisi, Mayo and teachers from Mill Green. Skills taught include stocking shelves, creating product displays, stock taking and dealing with customers. Around 15 young people have benefited from working in the store so far, and Mayo is currently considering offering a permanent position to a Mill Green student.
In addition, the couple also have an ongoing in-store collection for nearby Saxton Avenue allotment, raising close to £1,000 from customer donations so far.
Commenting on their community efforts, Bisi commented, “We love being part of the local community, and it’s so important to us that we are more than just local shopkeepers. This store is a local hub for many in the surrounding community, and that’s how we’ve tried to position it since we took over. We are serving the local community by giving them the convenience store that the area has been crying out for many years, but we’re also trying to bring the community together by supporting important local causes such as the food bank, allotment and Mill Green school.
“Living locally, we are well aware of the needs of the local community here in Sutton, and we are lucky enough to be in a position to be proactive and try to get everybody involved. The impact on the community is there for all to see, and there is a great deal of positivity around the store and what we are doing. Another positive aspect of what we’re doing is that it has meant that shoplifting from our store is virtually non-existent now, whereas it was an issue when we first opened – it just shows what a long way we have come already. The support we have received from Parfetts and the Go Local team has been invaluable, and they are very supportive of taking an active role in the community.”
Parfetts is an employee-owned business, and its employees play a significant role in the company’s success and its retailers.
Guy Swindell, joint managing director at Parfetts, said: “We’ve been working closely with Bisi and Mayo since they took over, and they’ve turned their store into a great success and made it an integral part of the community. It is important to us as a business as we want to engage with our customers on all levels and support the causes that are important to them. With Bisi and Mayo at the helm, I’m confident that this store will be an even greater success moving forward and have an even more significant role in supporting the local community in many positive ways.”