NIW Cuppa Day beats the rain

As part of National Independents’ Week, the My Shop Is Your Shop (MSYS) campaign featured the first ever National Cuppa Day on Tuesday, June 3, with local retailers offering customers a free cup of tea and biscuits and an opportunity to chat.

Despite heavy rain in some parts of the country – with freak storms in the south and Midlands – first reports indicated a big success for the activity.

MSYS campaigners said the event proved the campaign could create promotional platforms opportunities for independents which did not exist previously. There are plans to develop the day for 2009.

MSYS chairman Alan Toft was on duty at the Best-one Express newsagent and c-store owned by Lisa Jones in Station Road, Southampton, where the team donned the iconic ‘Local And Proud Of It’ T-shirts to celebrate their community involvement. Serving tea and welcoming customers to Cuppa Day was Tetley GB executive Peter Brown.

Lisa, an ex-Dorothy Perkins store manager, is raising funds to help pay for a new roof on the local Scout Hut which is used for the local pre-school facility and for other community activities.

She said: “Heavy rain discouraged some customers but we had a great day and we will repeat it next year. More than 60 customers enjoyed a cuppa and biscuits and a chat. It was lovely and it’s a great way of demonstrating our customer-friendly policy. Bestway/ Batleys, our wholesaler and friendly advisor Jenny Brown have been very supportive. This will boost footfall in my business and therefore boost their business too.”

Robert Morris, a regular customer, said: “This is wonderful and a great idea. I use this shop every day, not only because it’s local but because Lisa and her team must run the friendliest shop in the country. The staff go out of their way to chat and be friendly. There’s always a smile. Other shops which I won’t name would learn a lot from Lisa.”

To mark NIW, Lisa held a Tasting Day with customers sampling new lines from Cadbury and Mars and new Best-one products. She organised a Community Green Day with every customer receiving a free Best-One bag for life, a cheese and wine evening and a Yummy Day with a chocolate fountain, strawberries and marshmallows and a free draw.

Saturday June 7 was scheduled to be the big Fun Day at the shop and also at the Scout Hut, supported by the local paper, the Daily Echo, and other local media with lots of freebies, bingo, balloon races, a barbecue and lots more.

Diane Seivewright, of the Ombersley Bakery, in Ombersley, Worcestershire, said: “It was very successful. We got a mention on our breakfast TV programme. About 70 customers were served with tea and biscuits during the morning in spite of the rain.”

Sylvia Winter, of Creaton Post Office, near Northampton, said: “It was a big success. We served over 100 customers with tea and biscuits despite the rain.”

Toft commented: “We will consult with the sponsors, Tetley GB and McVitie’s, and the MSYS campaign committee on how we can develop this marvellous idea. It’s a unique opportunity for independents to demonstrate just how different they are from the giant multiples which just could not put Cuppa Day in the same genuine community context.”

Toft said initial reports from wholesalers and retailers revealed intensive activity throughout the country but a full picture would not be obtained until reports were collated in preparation for a full review at the PR Action Group (PRAG) meeting on June 17.

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