Every independent retailer in the country is under pressure, from the legislators, the supermarket chains and even the suppliers. Each convenience store, on its own, is the smallest fish in a very big pond. That’s why the sector is often the first to feel the pinch when times get tough. You’re an easy target for suppliers looking to enhance their margins at your expense, or government departments seeking a scapegoat for society’s ills. In recent weeks we’ve seen retailers take their own stands, with Kevin Hunt leading the boycott of Vodafone and Ken Patel organising a petition against the removal of tobacco displays. Both started their action because they believed that if the industry stands together, it can speak with a formidable voice. That’s why Convenience Store is inviting you to join us in tackling the issues that affect your business, and to get involved in our new series of campaigns to protect the independent retailer. At a time when everyone seems to be talking at convenience retailers, we pledge that we will talk for you. In consultation with our readers, we’ve chosen three issues to kick off the Stand Up, Speak Up project. We believe these are causes around which all independents can rally: the purchase of age-restricted products by adults on behalf of children; the proposed changes to tobacco retailing; and the lack of competition in the supply of gas and electricity. This campaigns special issue coincides with the launch of our new internet resource, www.thegrocer.co.uk/independents, where you’ll be able to keep up with the progress of the project, add your own views, and find out what you can do to make sure your voice is heard. In the coming months we will gather widespread support for the campaigns outlined in the following pages. But we’ll need you to stand up and speak up – because the one thing you can rely on in the current climate of uncertainty is that if you do nothing, you’ll get nothing.