Alan says suppliers should consult retailers more often, but store owners need to play ball

Now it can be told. The crucial secret ingredient which helped to establish the My Shop Is Your Shop (MSYS) campaign was the creative contribution of independent retailers.

Steve Morris, Lisa Jones, Lesley Brown, Julian Taylor-Green, Arjan Mehr, Prashawt Shah, Terry Fieldhouse, Raj Aggarwal, Glenn Bowman, Sunder Sandher, Dee Sedani, Dimple Modha, Geeta Doal, Heather Stothard, Kishor Patel, Steve Robinson, Ralph Patel, John Maxwell Jones and Dennis Williams were among them.

Their experience halted some crazy proposals, created new concepts and sieved a lot ideas from the 'might do' file into the 'will do' programme.

It was their spontaneity plus advice from seasoned professional advisors and suppliers which produced a highly potent mix.

There's a lesson here. More independent sounding boards should be employed by suppliers and wholesalers when new concepts, products or promotional mechanics are under construction. Sadly, the retailer is often not consulted.Too often ivory towers loom when a new brand extension or pricemarked product appears on the horizon.

Wholesalers have their excellent member advisory panels, but MSYS reached for the stars fuelled by a militant mix of fascia and unaffiliateds. Organisers must be brave and learn to rely on unstructured groups of retailers there's no such thing as the perfect committee.

But there's a problem with all this. Too many independents decline invitations to engage. True, they are busy people, but the recent protest against the tobacco display ban demonstrated that c-store owners and newsagents can rally in numbers.

So when opportunities arise to contribute, why not join in? You are the bosses. Speak up in 2010.