This is a guest feature provided by Rachel Rissbrook, Marketing and Commercial Manager, Cambridge BID. Rachel was coordinator of this year’s Independent Retailer Month activities in the city.
Independent Retailer Month in Cambridge
Cambridge is a gorgeous historical city and an ideal place for local residents and visitors to potter around and discover a large and diverse array of independent retailers. From market stalls to shops, bars and cafes, museums and attractions, Cambridge has a booming and vibrant independent scene that sets it apart from many of the UK’s high streets.
Independent Retailer Month is a great way of raising awareness for these different businesses, and in Cambridge, we believe they are an essential part of the city landscape throughout the year. This year, we felt that as a city we should of course continue to promote the indie retailers, but it was also important to celebrate the month with our service sector and fantastic and unique attractions such as punting company, Scudamore’s. Dating back to 1903, Scudamore’s is one of Cambridge’s oldest independent businesses. It used the month to lay on some special tours and has been thrilled to be a part of the campaign for the first time as it had the opportunity to link up with other local businesses.
Getting involved with Independent Retailer Month
In total, 57 businesses took part in our July campaign – some working together to offer a Street Party such as Rose Crescent, a unique and quaint side street with a mix of shops and cafes. Others ran their own promotions and events with some fun and creative competitions too. Cambridge BID coordinated the campaign and funded marketing support and produced a guide to the city’s independents which was available at all participating businesses, at major distribution points around the city, and city residents received them through their doors! Support marketing included local advertising and promotion, an extensive Twitter campaign and online activity through www.cambridgebid.co.uk and local partners, including tourism www.visitcambridge.com.
Increased Footfall and Business Success
The most successful businesses of the month, who saw increased footfall, were those that engaged with their current customers as well as riding off the back of the city-wide campaign. Sharon Meijand, owner of the unique vegetarian eatery, Rainbow Café www.rainbowcafe.co.uk, organised a ‘Double Happy Hour’. Sharon says that she was “delighted to take part in the month’s campaign and as the offer was so well received, we decided to extend it throughout August and September”.
CallyCo www.callyco.com, Cambridge’s brightest and most creative independent fabric shop and haberdashers, enthused of the attention it received as part of Independent Retailer Month.
Boudoir Femme www.boudoirfemme.co.uk, the go-to destination for stylish women of Cambridge and beyond, has an enviable reputation for customer service and believes that Independent Retailer Month is one amongst many initiatives that has established a collaborative spirit and sense of community amongst retailers and residents alike. Boudoir Femme’s owner, Pippa Sandison, says, “We saw an increase in our footfall and mailing list; achieved through promotional discounts that drove sales and coincided activity with a successful charity event”.
Independent Retailer Month goes from strength to strength
All in all, the month goes from strength to strength in Cambridge with an increase in businesses being involved. We are delighted to be able to support the local independents as they bring something unique to our city (and high streets generally). The experience you get with our indies really makes the difference: they are passionate about their businesses and about their customers and we look forward to the next campaign!