MSYS plans Xmas message for shoppers

The FWD My Shop Is Your Shop (MSYS) campaign is planning to mount a nationwide consumer PR drive prior to Christmas reminding shoppers of the fundamental ways in which local independent retailers are involved in the community at Christmas.

An MSYS Christmas think-tank is now forming to plan consumer focus on how the local independent c-store and newsagent becomes a crucial amenity at Christmas.

Wholesalers are being invited to identify and nominate retailers who are active in their communities at Christmas so that their stories can be transmitted to local and regional media across the country. They will be highlighting independents who not only sell seasonal products and gifts but are often involved in helping vulnerable members of the community, such as people down on their luck and the elderly.

For example, statistics reveal that a substantial number of elderly people particularly spend Christmas alone – the only people they will speak to are the staff in their local shop.

Independent c-stores and newsagents can also contact the campaign with information on how they help local people, children’s charities or old folks’ clubs at Christmas.

Their stories will then be relayed by MSYS to their own regional and local media in a co-ordinated manner.

MSYS chairman Alan Toft says: “There is a big and important human side to Christmas in as much as local retailers often help people – especially the vulnerable and lonely.

“It’s all part of the sole trader and family business way of doing things for the community – it’s not always about pounds and pence. It’s part of the unique interface between the local shop and the neighbourhood.

“We know that independents collect for local charities and old folks clubs and that kind of thing. There will be dozens of different ways in which independents show their community value at Christmas and we want to know them.

“We will draw all the various elements together to demonstrate to the consumer that local independent stores are irreplaceable – but are even more so at Christmas. Over time our activity will help to drive footfall.”

This move, he adds, will give the MSYS campaign a second peak in the year to add to the now established National Independents’ Day on June lst.

“The FWD PR Action Group (PRAG) driving the campaign is responding to retailer demands for more activity through the year so that MSYS is not seen as having a one-day centrepiece on National Independents’ Day,” says Toft.

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=== MSYS guide for independents ===

This autumn, independent retailers will have a simple new guide to the FWD My Shop Is Your Shop (MSYS) campaign – which will be distributed at various exhibitions and retailer shows.

The leaflet contains a brief outline of the campaign and its objectives and includes guidance on logging on to the dedicated website.

This is how the text describes MSYS and how sole traders and family business c-stores and newsagents can link into it:

“My Shop Is Your Shop, Local And Proud Of It” is the theme of the campaign which sets out to promote your kind of store and the people who run it.

Launched by the Federation of Wholesale Distributors in 2004, the MSYS campaign reminds the consumer of the value of stores such as yours to the local community.

It’s a public relations and marketing activity, based on the fact that your shop is also the community’s shop and your everyday interface with your customers inevitably rises above simply “pounds, shillings and pence”.

== YOUR COMMUNITY – AND YOUR STORE ==

l You will know many of your customers personally – many of them rely on you.

l Research shows that the elderly and the vulnerable of all ages use local independent shops regularly – many of them every day. So you’re special.

l The MSYS campaign is two-way: the campaign promotes local independent c-stores and newsagents and you can win by supporting MSYS.

== THE BASICS OF MSYS: YOUR ACTION PLAN ==

l National Independents’ Day on June 1st is an annual nationwide celebration and PR platform emphasising the value of independent retailers in the community. Make sure you participate.

l MSYS is a discipline too – the campaign reminds you to become involved in your local community to the maximum: community means trade.

l For example, support your local charities, sports clubs, school activities, old folks’ organisations – just ask and you’ll find they will welcome your help.

l Local media, radio, TV and papers can be your friends. Don’t hesitate to contact them to inform them of your community work – you could be their local “eyes and ears”.

l Look at the MSYS website [http://www.myshopisyourshop.co.uk] where you’ll find ideas used by your fellow retailers to promote their neighbourhood involvement.

l Ask your wholesaler about MSYS and any special related activities that they are organising.

== SIGN IN TO THE MSYS DATABASE ==

Send an email to hq@fwd-uk.com with your name, address of your shop and telephone number. You will be added to the list of independent retailers who will receive future information by email about the MSYS campaign and its benefits to you.

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