An independent school in Harrogate is throwing its weight behind the town’s independent businesses with the launch of a loyalty card.
The initiative, by Ashville College, has already seen two dozen businesses, including an estate agent, sports clubs, country pursuits specialists, clothes shops, hairdressers, driveway and tree surgeon specialists signing up to the scheme by offering discounts to parents, pupils, staff and alumni.
The loyalty scheme comes off the back of the 890-pupil school announcing that it is now buying its books from the Imagined Things Bookshop, located in The Westminster Arcade, on Parliament Street, instead of from national high street chains.
Last summer, the bookshop made national headlines when owner Georgia Duffy famously Tweeted that on one day, she had taken just £12.34.
This amplified the plight of independent businesses not only in Harrogate, but around the country, battling against the threat of online shopping and out of town shopping centres, combined with rising rents and rates and increased parking charges.
Ashville College Headmaster Richard Marshall said: “The response to us announcing our partnership with Imagined Things was welcomed far and wide. This led us to think about how we could better support other independents in and around Harrogate.
“As a result, we are launching an ‘Ashville Loyalty Scheme’ to encourage parents, pupils, staff and former pupils, some 4,000, to use these businesses, the point is, to drive footfall to them.
“Without a thriving high street, and in particular ones with independent and boutique shops, towns like ours will cease to become attractive to visitors, which is the last thing anyone wants. A thriving local economy is what is needed, not rows of empty shops.
“My message to independent businesses that would like to offer a discount or some other reward is please do get in touch so we can build the offering – and help support you and the local economy.”
Former pupil Nick Summer, an Old Ashvillian whose father owned the legendary record shop, Sound of Music, said: “Harrogate’s independent shops are what sets it apart from any other town in the country.
“In its day my father’s shop attracted music fans from far and wide. This was, and is, the appeal of independent shops. They attract visitors to the town, they increase employment and massively boost the local economy.
“I’m delighted my old school, an independent in its own right, is backing independent businesses here in Harrogate.”
Independent businesses wishing to participate in Ashville College’s loyalty scheme should contact firstname.lastname@example.org for further details.