From the time I first stumbled across Independent Retailer Month in 2011 I have appreciated receiving the benefits of Clare’s insights and experience of the retail world so when she launched the idea of Christmas Shopping Crawls I was eager to participate…. but there were a couple of question marks…
The Melrose Christmas Shopping Trail was born…
My question marks were:
- I wasn’t keen on the word ‘crawls’
- I wasn’t sure how receptive my retail colleagues might be or whether I could co-ordinate such an event.
Clare quickly dispensed with the first problem by saying that the crawl template would be fully editable – thus, the Melrose ‘Trail’ was born. The only way to resolve the second was to try!
Melrose: A small, picturesque town in the Scottish Borders
Yours truly (centre) with a few Trail colleagues in Market Square. (Photo credit, Lloyd Smith, Aikman Smith Creative Photography)
We are very fortunate in Melrose, a small, picturesque town in the Scottish Borders consisting almost exclusively of independent businesses. Nevertheless, that doesn’t insulate us from the realities of the current economic retail environment and it is a little ironic that our traders’ association was dissolved almost two years ago, while up and down the country new ones have been established. It may be natural for individual businesses to be absorbed with their own situation but I firmly believe that we can achieve more by acting together.
Engaging local support for the Christmas Shopping Trail
I hand delivered a letter to my retail colleagues but the initial response was slow with only half a dozen. I had suggested a prize fund contribution of £20 plus £5 towards administration; a modest but achievable target when every outgoing is scrutinised. But we did need at least ten participants.
Then, coincidentally, I received a visit from Lynn Stewart, the editor of a local, free, bi-monthly magazine, Toun Cryer, whom I regaled with the shopping trail idea. She immediately saw the potential for both parties of doing a feature on the trail supported by advertising from participants and she generously offered a contribution of £200 to the Prize Draw fund. So, while I emailed colleagues with details of her proposal, Lynn, fired with enthusiasm, undertook to visit them and convert more to the cause. Her efforts reaped rewards for us both with seventeen participating in the trail and most placing advertising. Lynn also asked her graphic designer, Vote Pedro, to assist with the map template which enabled me to tick off one more task! Printing is another matter and we may have to rely on producing the trail forms between ourselves.
Spreading the word to local shoppers about the Christmas Shopping Trail
I’ve urged everyone to make use of their customer databases, website, newsletters, Facebook and Twitter accounts to get the word out as much as possible. I’m also hoping the local newspaper(s) will pick up the story (courtesy of Clare’s PR template!) but there’s a definite reluctance if the story isn’t accompanied by advertising! [interjection by Clare: Sad fact 😦 – see my blog on this…http://retailchampion.wordpress.com/2012/07/18/when-local-press-is-led-solely-by-advertising-revenues-local-businesses-loose-out/ ]
Our Objective? Encourage the as many Borders’ residents as possible to use Melrose this Christmas for their buying and entertainment
Our objective is simple; to encourage the highest possible number of Borders’ residents to use Melrose this Christmas for their buying and entertainment and, hopefully, to acquaint people with businesses which they may not have used before or even knew existed. My own is only thirty yards from the Market Square but even after five and a half years local people are still discovering it. We also plan to have a late shopping evening on 6 Dec. when, hopefully, we will be able to create a little razzmatazz around the Christmas tree with music in the Square and shops offering tasty treats.
The Melrose Christmas Shopping Trail promises to be fun, let’s also hope it’s successful. Merry Christmas!
This blog was supplied by Derrick Armitage, local activation partner for Melrose and owner of Present Perfect, 1 Scott’s Place, Melrose TD6 9QZ. Visit the Present Perfect website via www.presentperfectmelrose.co.uk or see their facebook page at www.facebook.com/PresentPerfectMelrose