Jonathan James was listening when his customers expressed their dismay at the closure of their local police station in Soham, East Cambridgeshire. So as their local store-owner he decided to do something about it to help the community.
The result was seen by miilions of readers in the Daily Mirror on May 30, the precursor to National Independents’ Week (June 2).
Jonathan has installed a police office in his shop – customers use an intercom at the checkout to alert the police that an issue has arisen.
Jonathan worked for six months with the local police to establish the mini-police station. By providing the base for the local police within the store, customers do not have to travel beyond their neighbourhood boundaries to contact law enforcement officers.
“We are delighted to support the Cambridgeshire Constabulary and help to keep the local bobby on the beat,” he says.
Jim Paice, the local MP, is also delighted with the innovation. It was a great example of the police and the local community working together through the local independent retailer, he says.
If any development brings the MSYS culture to life, it must surely be this.
Then Mirror readers will note how Charanjit and Geeta Doal literally go that extra mile to help the elderly in their neighbourhood in Wheaton Aston. They have set up their own “taxi” service offering a free trip to the store and then deliver their customers and their shopping back home.
“For some of our customers it is the only contact with another human being they get in a week. They look forward to coming to the shop and having a chat as well as doing their shopping,” says Geeta.
The medieval village is at the heart of a rural area in which houses can be scattered. But Geeta and Charanjit make sure their customers are not completely isolated.
In the Daily Record the Pricekraker Store, in Fintry, Dundeem is featured. Owner Sandy Sarwar and his staff are well known for their charity work, especially for the Tayside Caring For Kids charity.
This helps thousands of vulnerable and needy children from across the region and customers are pleased to help.
Sandy says: “Our shop is a regular meeting place for people to catch up on what’s going on in the community. We are on first name terms with all of our customers”.
David Woodrow, of Bishopton, Renfrew, is chairman of his local community council and runs a busy convenience store. How close to the community can you get?
He can often be seen driving local pensioners to and from the store in the local scout bus – David is an area commissioner for the Boy Scout movement.
=== MSYS – THE FIRST FIVE YEARS ===
The My Shop is Your Shop campaign was launched by the Federation of Wholesale Distributors in 2004 to fill a vacuum caused by the absence of a positive non-protest PR and marketing activity supporting independent c-stores, newsagents and rural shops.
National Independents’ Week (NIW) is the centrepiece of the campaign.
The iconic yellow T-shirts with the slogan Local And Proud Of It have become a modern-day NIW identification of the family business and sole trader supplied by wholesalers.
It has succeeded in establishing a new creative generic platform for promotional activity supporting wholesalers’ customers where none existed before. In 2008, big brand suppliers have increasingly recognised the opportunity to boost their independent activity with promotions linked to National Independents’ Week.
Wholesale and supplier directors and staff were deployed to help out in store during NIW.
National Cuppa Day on June 3 was the first ever celebration of our heritage beverage – presented in independent stores by courtesy of a 6 for the price of 5 promotion on Tetley 80s tea bags and a 4 for the price of 3 by McVitie’s market leading biscuits.