New campaign to support Nottingham's independent shops27 June 2012
Next week will see our friends across the pond celebrate their independence, but here in Nottingham we'll be celebrating our independents - independent shops, bars, cafes and pubs, that is.
A campaign throughout July linked to Independence Day - celebrated in the United States on July 4 - is being launched by the Nottingham Retail and Leisure Business Improvement Districts (BID) to highlight and celebrate the strength of the city's independent retail and leisure sectors.
Independents are vital to distinguish Nottingham from other towns and cities and also to attracting visitors who are looking for something a little different, say the organisers.
From the beginning of July visitors can find out all about Nottingham's independent offering through a specially designed interactive map available on the It's In Nottingham website, www.itsinnottingham.com/independents.
The city's independents will also be easily distinguishable by a newly created logo which will appear on stickers in the shop windows and on the businesses' websites.
Geoff Williams, director of the retail BID and owner of The Tokenhouse in Bridlesmith Gate, said: "This is a great initiative for Nottingham's independent businesses.
"We have known for a long time what a great independent offering the city has and this will enable those businesses to be clearly identified and to actively promote them too."
Gary Thomson, of Tonic bar and restaurant in Chapel Bar and director of the leisure BID, said: "One of the challenges of being an independent is being heard. We really want to shout about independents and make people aware we have some great businesses that offer really good service.
"They are often owner managed so you get a sense of passion that can be difficult to replicate in chains."
Throughout the month there will also be a range of exclusive special offers, competitions and treats from Nottingham's independent businesses.
These will be available through VIP Nottingham, It's In Nottingham's free online reward scheme for special offers and treats from businesses in Nottingham city centre.
In addition, the retail and leisure BIDs have launched a competition - Your Favourite Independent - sponsored by the Post, giving readers the opportunity to vote for their favourite independent. Voting opens at the beginning of July.
There will be two categories in the competition, one for independent retailers and one for independent licensed premises and they need to be either levy payers or Friends of the two BIDs who contribute to the BID's activities.
The top five in each category, as voted for by readers, will then be assessed by a panel of judges who will choose two overall winners. The results will be announced at the beginning of August.
The judges will use criteria ranging from quality of customer service to the knowledge and friendliness of staff to the quality and range of products or services.
Lynn Oxborrow, retail expert and principal lecturer in management at Nottingham Trent University's business school, will be one of the judges.
Explaining what she'll be looking for, she said: "It has to have something that's a bit quirky about it. I really like to be able to see the supply chain and where the products come from, so a designer's own things or locally sourced products. Another important thing is creating a friendly shopping environment, so good customer service but not over the top. Then a little bit of the 'wow' factor."
See the Post throughout July for features on our independents, starting next Wednesday, plus details on how to vote in our competition - one reader will win £100 in vouchers.