Caring at Christmas Sylvia shows how

More examples are being reported of how independent retailers become more involved than ever with their local communities at Christmas.

At a Northamptonshire store, old folk are offered help in wrapping up their Christmas gift parcels. The staff will stick their stamps on the parcels and help them to find the most suitable cards for their needs.

The FWD My Shop Is Your Shop (MSYS) campaign is in its first year of setting out to demonstrate the specific value of the independent retailer to the local neighbourhood at Christmas. With its Caring At Christmas activity, MSYS believes the localness and unique community interface of the sole trader and family business comes into its own in the season of goodwill to a far greater extent than in the impersonal giant retail corporations.

Sylvia Winter, who runs the Creaton Post Office Stores, in Northamptonshire, works hard to make Christmas special for her customers. She is helping local people who produce gifts, jewellery and similar items by stocking the products in the shop. A local company which makes Russian dolls has been given a window display. The shop has an order and delivery service for Christmas trees and wreaths and Sylvia is also busy making home made cakes and mince pies.

She has organised the production of a local Creaton calendar which is also on sale in the shop – and there is a wine tasting every Friday evening with wines which are purchased delivered to customers’ homes.

Every Christmas activity is promoted by the shop – and at Christmas weekend carols will be sung in the shop and mulled wine offered to customers.

Is Sylvia the Caring At Christmas champion? Alan Toft, MSYS chairman, said: “It is our objective to promote community involvement by encouraging retailers to step up their neighbourhood activities at Christmas. Sylvia is demonstrating just how the independent retailer can offer services and help to local people which will make their Christmas just that little bit better. “She and her staff are personally involved with her community at Christmas in a way in which the giant multiple just cannot offer.

“By publicising these activities in local media there will be an accumulative impact on the consumer which makes yet another contribution to the public’s awareness of the true value of the independent.”

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