Latest news from Bira

26 Nov 2020

Bira members are top of the shops!

Two Bira members won awards in Britain’s Best Small Shop competition.

Small Stuff UK in Crookes, Sheffield, and Nourish in Topsham, Exeter, won best innovator during Covid, and runner-up shop of the year, respectively.

The top prize was won by Cornucopia, a family run, independent, home and gift shop in Worcester.

Cornucopia, whose ethos is all about quality and individuality, stocks both iconic British brands such as Emma Bridgwater, Plum & Ashby and Repeat Repeat as well as products with a Danish influence that originated with the business founders, including luxury brands Dansk Smykkekunst, Bahne, Cozy Living and Broste Copenhagen.

During lockdown it opened a Trouva boutique online with owners Clare and Hannah Bishop taking products home from the shop and turning their garage into a distribution centre. This enabled them to focus on distributing products to customers all over the world as well as giving them the confidence and incentive to open their own online shop.

Clare Bishop, who owns Cornucopia with her daughter Hannah, said: “We both felt so humbled and honoured to have been shortlisted for this award. We had a peak at some of the other shortlisted shops and just felt so privileged to have been placed amongst them. But to then find out we had won was just amazing. We really couldn’t have achieved this without our customers. It’s just incredible.

“We just feel that customers really want a physical shop to come into. We like to display in a way that gives the customer an idea of what they could recreate at home. We have a tremendous team to help support us within the shop otherwise it just wouldn’t look the way it does. It involves lots of hard work but it’s really enjoyable and worthwhile.”

In their comments about Cornucopia, the judges said that they ‘loved their resilient approach combined with their community spirit’.

The two runners-up were Bira member Nourish of Topsham, an ethical, packaging-free, zero waste provisions shop in Topsham, near Exeter; and AG Hendy, a homeware shop in Hastings, which offers practical plastic free, eco-friendly goods for the home.

A special award was also made this year for the independent shop that had displayed most innovation during the Covid-19 pandemic. This was awarded jointly to Bira member Small Stuff UK, a children’s shop in Sheffield, which specialises in ethical and eco-conscious lifestyle products and clothing for small children, and Grace’s Bakery, a three-generation family bakery in Ryde on the Isle of Wight.  This award was sponsored by booost, the loyalty, gifting and promotions app.

In their comments about Small Stuff, the judges said that the shop’s use of Zoom for gift purchasing was ‘a brilliant idea during these difficult times, and definitely something other businesses can implement for continuing sales and reaching out to new customers’.

The judges recognised the way the shop had used its voice across social platforms to promote local shopping in the area.

Owner Hellen Stirling-Baker said: "It’s absolutely fantastic. It’s a wonderful competition that highlights so many incredible businesses that I looked at and thought, wow, look at the amazing things they’re doing. The award couldn’t have come at a better time, given everything we have had to deal with with Covid. It just drives me more and more to continue what we are doing and push forward with this independent business that I have grown.”

The Best Small Shops competition is managed by the Independent Retailers Confederation (IRC), whose member trade associations represent approximately 100,000 independent retailers throughout the UK between them. The competition celebrates the commitment and creativity of independent retailers on the UK’s High Streets and the central role they play in their local communities. It is sponsored by Maybe*, an engagement platform that helps make social media work for independent retailers.

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