Anyone looking for somebody to talk with should look no further than Avachat, Berrigan.
Avachat is a new not-for-profit project designed to encourage social activities between members of the community.
Operated by Joni Jefferis, it is located in Chanter St and provides an opportunity for keen arts and craft lovers to sell their products. Or people can just go along and simply have a cup of tea and a chat.
‘‘You can come into the store with your homemade design and sell it for whatever price you’d liked,’’ she said.
‘‘Once the product is sold, you keep the money, but also provide a small donation to the business to pay for the upkeep and rent.
‘‘I’d love if we could have jars of jams, pottery, knitting, sewing, wood turning, jewellery, rort iron or paintings.
‘‘They don’t have to come in to sell or buy anything, they might just want to come in to have a chat, hence the name ‘Avachat’.
‘‘The most important thing is getting people to come in and talk; there are quite a lot of lonely people in the community and this will be a place to know they are welcomed.’’
Any profits Avachat eventually makes will be donated to homelessness charities, Joni said.
She said this was inspired by a tough experience she shared with her granddaughter Naree.
‘‘I was in Melbourne with Naree and we were heading back to our hotel when we saw an elderly lady with her dog underneath a blanket leaning up against the wall,’’ she said.
‘‘She had her money cup and didn’t ask us for money but Naree and I gave her some anyway.
‘‘Afterwards, Naree asked me why she was like that and said she wanted to help.’’
Avachat has taken up residence in the former plant shop, and Joni hopes its volunteer aspect can be carried on in the new business. Having moved to Berrigan only two years ago, Joni said this community spirit inspired her.
‘‘I’ve always had a true passion for opening a store like this. I remember the old plant shop and how people would walk in just to have a chat.
‘‘Luckily, I have a very kind — and anonymous — benefactor helping me financially to start the project.
‘‘I’ve set up the business, but hopefully this can be run by the community.’’
Joni will also be running croquet classes on Thursdays during November.