We’ve recently had our new National Lottery Scratchcard terminal installed in the shop and in the first three days sales were fantastic, to the extent that we managed to sell out of the £5, £2 and £1 scratchcards before Camelot had even dispatched the new packs! Great news for Camelot and for us - we also paid out £300+ in prizes which does a lot to boost word of mouth in the area.

I got to thinking about the gamble we all take when we take on a shop. Every penny we spend is a bit of a gamble, sometimes it pays off but there will always be that £1,000 spend that boosts your average basket by 1p instead of the expected £1 which is never a nice feeling.

Our shop is possibly the nightmare scenario for an insurer: our walls are asbestos sheets, we have an asbestos roof and we sell fuel, cigs and booze, and now that we have a lottery terminal you can guarantee our premium will shoot up come renewal time. If we added an ATM we would probably get a ‘computer says No’ reaction.

With the exception of a small extension to the store area partly funded by the EU in 2006 (prior to our ownership), the shop has not really changed in the 75+ years it has been here. The floor tiles are now starting to curl upwards, the sub-floor is ruined and the largest chiller we have is about to chill its last.

So, given that the entire shop will need emptying into the store room, the shelving units dismantled and cleaned and the old chiller destroyed in order to remove it from the building before the floor work (lasting about four days) can begin, the question now is: ‘When do we close for a week?’.

Whenever we close we’re going to be losing money, not only through a lack of sales, but also through the expense of the new floor and the payment of staff holidays as well as the new equipment. We’re thinking October just before the School Holidays, traditionally a quietish time for us before the mayhem of Christmas, but trying to get a chiller from the mainland to Shetland relies on couriers, contractors, sellers and fork lift truck drivers all playing ball as well as the hope that Mother Nature is on our side for the 12-hour ferry crossing!

All in all, we’re looking at a £25k investment in the hope that we can continue trading from our current premises. As one shopkeeper said “customers don’t come in for the floor” so it’s certainly a gamble for us, however if anyone has a £1m scratchcard out there that they don’t need we’ll gladly take it off your hands to reduce the risk a little!