Retailers in Spalding are queuing up to be part of a national campaign to put the soul back into shopping in town centres.
More that 50 businesses have signed up to be involved in Independents’ Day on Thursday, July 4 – so many that the promotion has been extended for a further two days.
Nikki Austin, who owns an interiors business in The Crescent, is one of the co-ordinators of the local event and says the response so far could lead to the formation of a new Spalding Retailers’ Forum.
She said: “The response has been overwhelming. We want to encourage each and every independent to consider participating as it demonstrates the diversity of businesses in the town and the commitment to the town of the independents.
“It is too easy for the larger multiples like Burtons to shut their doors and quit the town when times are challenging, but the independents are owned by people in the town, providing employment for the town, paying their taxes and fully contributing to the local economy.
“The country would be a poorer place and the High Street much worse without independents. A town of only bookmakers, charity shops and pay day loan businesses may prevent vacant units, but does nothing to make the High Street interesting and vibrant.
“We’re hoping this campaign will bring the feel-good factor back into Spalding. It’s going to be fun and upbeat and hopefully have shoppers wanting to come back to us.”
Already committed to the campaign are Hills Department Store and many of The Crescent traders. It is hoped also some of the Saturday market traders will get involved and an invitation has been extended to the Eastern European stores to showcase their wares, too.
Theo Paphitis, star of the BBC TV’s Dragons’ Den, is backing the national campaign. He said: “I am supporting this year’s Independents’ Day campaign as I believe that independent businesses have a vital role to play in our economy.
“Through the campaign, support is available to these small businesses to help them be the best they can be. I would urge independent retailers to take advantage of the support that is on offer to them through the National Skills Academy for Retail.”
Organisers of the Spalding event have been visiting as many independent shops as they can to encourage them to take part. Nikki said: “We haven’t been able to get around everyone, but there is still time for them to get involved.”
Phil Scarlett, president of the Spalding Chamber of Trade and Commerce, is delighted so many local businesses have come on board to support the event.
He said: “Spalding has a very strong selection of independent stores.
“It is critical during these challenging trading times that shoppers support their independent retailers.
To take part in Independents’ Day, contact Hills at email@example.com or Crescent Traders firstname.lastname@example.org
A full list of participants should be available in next week’s Spalding Guardian, together with details of specials offers, tastings and activities taking place across the town.