Award-winning retailer Raj Aggarwal is urging fellow store owners to throw themselves behind National Independents’ Week (NIW), June 1-6.

The recipient of last year’s Federation of Wholesale Distributors’ (FWD) Gold Award sees the week as a chance to make a statement about the role of small stores.

“It’s a great chance to demonstrate we’re not just about money,” said Raj, who owns two Londis stores in Leicestershire. “You will see a sales uplift, but for me that’s not what it’s about – it’s about being recognised as a caring business. There are so many independent retailers who support their local communities and this personal interface just cannot be replicated by the giant retailers.

“This is a low-cost, high-profile chance to say thank you to your customers that will leave a lasting impression.”

Last year Raj organised a day of activities with live music, a bouncy castle and face-painting. He provided food and drink and persuaded suppliers to contribute products to give away. The event was promoted with posters and leaflets.

“We had a fantastic response – it was such a fun day,” said Raj. “The customers understood that it was our reward to them and for a while afterwards we were the talk of the town. That’s exactly what I had hoped.”

The FWD’s My Shop is Your Shop campaign, which organises NIW, has made some suggestions for events at www.myshopisyourshop.co.uk. For more on NIW, see p31.