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Harnessing local support
Sometimes consumers can be blind to what they have on their doorstep. So how can Bira members continuously remind shoppers to use their local independent retailers, to buy something and to keep money in the local economy? Here, we take a look at a few campaigns that seem to be working.
Indie York was established by the York Independent Business Association (YIBA) after the 2015 floods, which affected most retailers in the city, directly or indirectly.
Johnny Hayes, former owner of Frankie & Johnny’s Cookshop (a Bira member) on the award-winning Bishopthorpe “Bishy” Road in York, now chairs YIBA.
He says: “After the floods, we knew we had to work together to show what a strong city of independents we are and to show that York was still open for business. We now have 200 independent members and 50 more are waiting to join the initiative in the spring.”
Members are drawn from the retail, culture, health, wellbeing, services, food, drink and tourism sectors. Important areas for activity across the city include Micklegate, Fossgate and, of course, Bishy Road.
An Indie York map is distributed by independent businesses across the city and at the York Food Festival and the St Nicholas Christ-mas Market. Although 50,000 maps have been distributed, Johnny says stronger traffic-drivers are indieyork.co.uk and the initiative’s social media channels.
“Members pay £50 a year to be included on the map and the website. We also receive support from the York BID and local sponsors, including an independent school. This allows YIBA to run the website and print the maps. We also hope to have secured funding for a part-time person to keep our website updated.”
Looking to the future, Johnny says they are hoping to run their first Independent Festival in 2020 in conjunction with 4 July – otherwise known as Independents’ Day UK – to continue to raise the profile of independent retailers within York.
For more information, visit indieyork.co.uk.
Ian Sowerbutts of H M Sowerbutts & Co, a furniture shop in Clitheroe, helps run the Shop Clitheroe Loyalty Card scheme, which involves 80 independents in the heart of the bustling Lancashire market town.
Since August 2012, every £5 spent at the participating retailers earns a stamp on a card. Once 10 stamps are collected, shoppers can take the card to one of four stations in the town to be entered into a prize draw to win £50 of vouchers to spend at any of the shops taking part. It costs retailers £28 a year to take part and this covers the cost of redeeming the voucher, so no one makes a loss.
Ian says: “We have a special draw every year at our annual food festival too, as this is where we originally launched the scheme. Here we give away three hampers, full of things from the food market to shoppers in the scheme.”
The scheme is run by volunteers and relies on the support of several retailers in the town continuing to encourage other business owners and shoppers to get involved. Most of the customers taking part are local, but some visit regularly each month to collect their stamps. More information is available at visitclith-eroe.co.uk/shopCard.
A nationwide campaign
The Just A Card campaign was set up by artist and designer Sarah Hamilton after she read an article four years ago in which a gallery owner stated that she would still be trading if every-one who complimented her on her business had bought ‘just a card’.
As a result, 10,000 Just A Card stickers are to be found on the windows of shops across the country.
Sarah says: “We’ve been inundated with requests for our ‘magic’ shop window stickers. The campaign seems to really resonate with shoppers and shop keepers. It creates a wonderful community feeling and seems to have really caught the mood of the nation.
“Urging support of local businesses is a powerful message, but it doesn’t have a tangible call to action, it is too loose. Yet having our stickers in the windows of shops reminds shoppers to go in and buy something, whether it is just a card, just a lightbulb or even just a carrot! Every action has a value.”
Visit justacard.org for updates on the campaign or to order your sticker.
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At the sharp end
So how can Bira members continuously remind shoppers to use their local independent retailers, to buy something and to keep money in the local economy? Here, we take a look at a few campaigns that seem to be working.