It’s year six for National Independents’ Week



Thousands of retailers – wholesalers’ customers – have and will wear the iconic yellow ‘Local And Proud Of It ‘ yellow T-shirt come June l to begin a week celebrating their localness.

Wholesalers and suppliers have and will join in the week of activities which independents mostly dream up themselves to suit their locality following the general advice and guidance published by MSYS.

Street parties, fun days, collections for local charities, face painting competitions, local school events, seven-a-side soccer tournaments, wine tastings and lots of promotional and product offers in-store – these now characterise NIW.

The campaign is driven by the FWD PR Action Group (PRAG) where independent retailer representatives constantly come up with new ideas to be promoted by MSYS as footfall motivators. Since launch it has held 40 meetings.

PRAG is probably one of the most effective community defenders currently working in the UK. Its work helps communities directly and indirectly at a moment in our history when the concept of community is under threat.

Where else do you find the idea of one stable centre of the neighbourhood – the local shop and its staff – looking out for the old and vulnerable, exchanging information on people down on their luck – or gladly up on their luck?





The PRAG experience has been a revelation to those who attend them for the first time. More than one independent retailer at the end of a meeting has commented: “I was very cynical about the committee but now I am a convert. I just did not know that such a positive driving force existed to help people like me who run local shops.”

The ideas arising from PRAG are not ivory tower marketing concepts. They are proposals from the day-to-day experience of people from “the coal face”. PRAG is not an industry anti-Tesco talking shop. It is a “how to” creative think tank delivering promotional schemes which work.

The concept is based on the simple principle of encouraging the consumer to place a value on the focal positioning and involvement of the local shop in the local community – a value based on the unique interface of the owner of the business and the people in the local community.




The campaign enables the small shop owner to say to the shopper “I own the business but it’s your shop too – it’s here for the neighbourhood in which I and my family share your everyday experiences”.

As successful as they are, the giant multiples will admit they cannot match this essentially local personal proposition to the consumer – the managers of high volume giant superstores work to a corporate agenda set by number crunchers in a remote head office.

MSYS research reveals that 60% of independents have personally helped out a customer who was down on their luck or vulnerable in some way. More than 70% of retailers see their business as a long-term community focus.

“These values are unique. When implemented it’s proved they grow sales. MSYS is built on these values and retailers have responded because they recognize them as exclusive to them,” says Alan Toft, former director general of FWD, originator and chairman of MSYS.





There is nothing like a nice cup of tea to help take the stresses and strains out of everyday life and when this comes with a biscuit it’s an ideal platform for the local shop to say ‘Come in for a chat’.

Tetley Tea and McVitie’s will again sponsor National Cuppa Day on June 3 following the success of the first NCD in 2008.

These major brands have again made special deals available to wholesalers to pass on to retailers under which free packs will give the retailer a starter for the big Cuppa day.

It’s all part of the MSYS message of community, friendliness and localness.

The event will be featured in cash and carries and delivered wholesalers will be featuring it nationwide.

Wholesaler field sales staff from major companies will be helping independents in their shops. Some cash and carries will nominate an MSYS champion from among the staff to encourage retailers to participate when they are visiting depots.

A special retailer guide will emphasise the importance of involving shop staff in the planning of Cuppa Day and making sure it is publicised well in advance. The local MP, the mayor, councillors and local officials should be invited to the store to help spread the message that the local independent store is a valuable community asset which cannot be replaced by satellite units owned by the impersonal giant retail corporations.


=== Sales up by 15.7% ===

Landmark Wholesale analysed sales achieved by independent retailers supplied by its wholesaler members during the period including National Independents’ Week in 2008

A total of 15,000 independent store sales came under the microscope in an exercise designed to evaluate the trend of promoted products. The analysis revealed that retailers’ sales increased by an average of 15.7%. Extrapolated to cover the total wholesale/independent sector this sales leap would represent a huge boost for the industry.


=== commons GETS THE MESSAGE ===

The increasing power of the MSYS campaign as a practical promotional help service for independents was highlighted in the House of Commons just ahead of NIW last year.

Tim Farron, MP for Westmorland amp; Lonsdale, put down an Early Day Motion urging the House of Commons to celebrate NIW. It was supported by fellow MPs Andrew Dismore, Michael Foster, Lynne Jones, Bob Spink, Mark Durkan, Mike Hancock, Bob Russell, Stephen Williams, Nigel Evans, Lindsay Hoyle, Adrian Sanders and Nicholas Winterton.


=== dennis plans trolley dash in national independents’ week ===

Edinburgh Booker Premier owners Dennis and Linda Williams have included a trolley dash round their Oxgangs Broadway store in their published programme for National Independents’ Week (NIW) which begins on June 1.

Local MSP David McLetchie and local councillors will be working behind the till for one day.

Dennis is a member of the FWD PR Action Group (PRAG) which drives the My Shop is Your Shop campaign of which NIW is the centrepiece.


=== This is the williams’ plan for NIW ===

Monday: (June 1) : Community Day. Meet local police, wardens, and staff fom the local community centre in store.

Tuesday: Healthy eating day. Advice on fresh and tasty healthier foods – a feel good day.

Wednesday: National Cuppa Day with a free cuppa and biscuit in store. Funds to be raised for the nearby Marie Curie Hospice and a seven-a-side soccer tournament to take place.

Thursday: Trolley Dash Day.

Friday: Our big fun day. Free barbecue, charity tombola, performances by the local Oxgangs Bellettes Dance Troupe, music by the Firhill School Jazz band, magic show and our MSP and councillors working behind the tills.

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