It's back - and it's bigger than ever. There's just one month to go until National Independents' Week (NIW), your chance to show the local community just how important a role your store plays in its life. But more than that, it's a footfall driver -
retailers who took part in last year's activities say their sales shot up as a result of their involvement in the My Shop is Your Shop (MSYS) campaign initiative.
Steven Robinson (left), who runs a Best-One store in Streatham Hill, South London, with co-owner Robert Shaw, is joining the festivities for the first time this year. "Initiatives such as National Independents' Week demonstrate the real strengths of stores like ours that truly care about their customers, and can be a real focal point for the community to get together," he says.
This year MSYS is stepping up a gear to ensure as many retailers as possible join in. As well as distributing promotional packs of posters,
T-shirts and hats, MSYS has come up with two new ideas - National Cuppa Day and Walk & Shop Day - which will make your store the talk of the neighbourhood.
On top of that there is strong support from the entire industry. Manufacturers will be introducing special NIW promotions, including money-off coupons totalling £3.10, which will be inserted in the Daily Mirror and Daily Record in Scotland on May 30, kickstarting the week by putting the independents' message out to 4.5 million newspaper readers. Wholesalers are getting in on the act as well, with MSYS displays in depots and senior staff standing by to pull on the famous yellow T-shirts and help out with retailers' events.
It's easy to get involved, and MSYS will give you all the support you need in the build-up. Most
importantly, MSYS will provide you with tips on how to ensure you make the most of your efforts by getting coverage in local newspapers and
The Cuppa connection
Tuesday, June 3 has been designated National Cuppa Day and it's a great chance for community retailers to demonstrate their unique relationship with customers.
Two of the biggest grocery brands have pledged their support to bring the event to life in store. There will be free Tetley tea bags and McVitie's biscuits available to every independent retailer in special offer outers to help make the day a celebration of community in the shop.
Here's the MSYS guide to your Cuppa Day:
Look out for the Tetley 80s tea bags 'six for five', and McVitie's 'four for three' packs.
Start publicising the day by printing the poster you will find on the MSYS website.
Invite your MP, the mayor, councillors, police officers and other well-known locals to pop in for a cuppa and a chat.
Contact your local paper, TV and radio station. Invite a reporter and explain how you are saying thanks with a cuppa and a chat to celebrate your role as a small business in the local community - a gesture of friendship which the impersonal multiples can't offer.
Remember, this is also about increasing sales. Make sure the store is ready to receive your guests.
Wednesday, June 4 is MSYS Walk & Shop Day, with the aim of demonstrating that walking to the shop is not only good for you, it's good for the planet too. Encourage customers to leave the car at home, grab the dog, the kids and a bag for life, and stroll down to your store.
Ask them how far they walked and MSYS will show you how to calculate the carbon emissions saved. Your total may not sound much, but with customers all over the country taking part, a significant saving could be made.
And don't forget to invite the local press - they'll often be happy to send a photographer.
National Independents' Week June 2-8
Call 0161 440 2789 for your free T-shirt kit.
Go to www.myshopisyourshop.co.uk for more details and advice on how to make this your most memorable week's trading ever.