Traders from the tiny Yorkshire market town of Boroughbridge will be meeting the Prime Minister and Chancellor tomorrow to share their plans to promote the “shop local” message.
Britain marks its first ever Small Business Saturday tomorrow – an initiative already well-established and backed by credit card giant AMEX in America.
The concept crosses the Atlantic for the first time this year as independent British firms continue the fight for survival amid tough trading conditions on the high street.
But, once again, it’s Boroughbridge which has been winning plaudits for its positive approach, punching above its weight in the battle to promote the “Shop Local” message, with a delegation invited to meet David Cameron at No 10.
Members of the town’s chamber of trade will be able to tell the Prime Minister about their own Love Boroughbridge marketing cooperative, set up in September to promote the town centre as a retail destination – a move which has already been applauded by national organisation Cooperatives UK.
The Department for Business has also invited jeweller Sian Foster and bridal boutique owner Louise Leong to lead a national online discussion about how the cooperative was formed and how it has helped small businesses in the town.
On Small Business Saturday tomorrow, traders will be taking the lead in Yorkshire once again, dispatching free coaches from Harrogate and York back to Boroughbridge, helping to bring extra trade into the town for the special day.
On their arrival in the market town, shoppers on the buses will be welcomed by a brass band, cheerleaders and an official welcome party headed by the mayor, Coun Graham Archer, and president of Boroughbridge Chamber of Trade, Barbara Lambert-Hill.
Shoppers visiting the town on December 7 will also be able to take advantage of special vouchers, enjoy a Christmas tree festival at the town’s St James’s Church, buy special “Small Business Saturday” pies made by award-winning butchers Greenwood and watch Christmas cookery demonstrations at the Old Foundry Kitchen by TV favourite and Rudding Park executive chef, Stephanie Moon.
Love Boroughbridge spokeswoman and chamber member Louise Leong said:
“We know, if we want people to use their local shops, then we have to do something different to make it worth their while.
“Sitting around moaning about how tough things are isn’t going to make them any better.
“We hope providing some free transport for the day, offering discount vouchers and a little entertainment will make doing a spot of Christmas shopping in Boroughbridge a pleasure.
“Mix it with a coffee in one of our cafés, a little pampering in the hairdressers or the beauty salon and lunch at one of the pubs and suddenly it’s a day out rather than a chore.
“We’re fortunate that parking is still free in the town centre but, if you want to leave the car at home, then we are grateful to Dodsworth Coaches for offering free transport from Harrogate and York – and back again.”
The coaches will leave Clifford’s Tower in York and Crescent Gardens in Harrogate at 10.30am, making the return journey from Boroughbridge at 1pm.
Mrs Leong added:
“We’re proud shops and businesses in Boroughbridge town centre are almost all independent, bringing shoppers in without the benefit of a major chain acting as an anchor.
“Nevertheless, we accept we have to work together if we’re to survive and that means each and every visitor has to feel they’re welcome in our town. We see December 7 as a chance to celebrate that – and we hope shoppers will too!”