The Mercury is joining a national campaign to back local traders in the run up to Christmas and we want all our readers to support them.
Tomorrow (Saturday) is Small Business Saturday, where people up and down the country are encouraged to pay a visit to the independent shops and businesses where they live.
We want readers to think about those small businesses in Stamford, Bourne, Rutland and the Deepings and just consider using them for some of your Christmas shopping.
Concerns are frequently raised over the health of our local high streets so here’s your chance to help by shopping locally.
While it may be tempting to do your Christmas shopping online or visit a big city shopping centre, we think you can find plenty of great gifts in our huge range of stores which put money in our local economy
Not only does it benefit our great traders, it also brings extra income into Stamford and has a knock-on effect on the rest of our town centre businesses.
Jonno Wyatt owns clothes store 23 Seven, which began in Market Deeping and recently opened a second store in Stamford Walk.
He believes his business is better suited to Christmas shopping than online retailers. He said: “You mainly have the added bonus of trying things on. A lot of the brands vary on their sizes. One label’s small can differ from another’s.
“You can feel the quality and see what you look like in a garment without having to wait for it in the post then pay to return it.
“The other advantage is to support local businesses and keep our town thriving with different shops. It’s nice for any community to have nice shops so there are benefits all round.
“It has a knock-on effect to the standard of living.”
Angela Wainwright is manager of Walkers bookshop in High Street, Oakham. Walkers also has a shop in High Street, Stamford, both of which contain a Thorntons chocolate shop.
Anglea believes her shop offers the personal touch that larger retailers do not. She said: “We are lucky we have a good core of customers who treasure that. Because we have been here so long they are used to it.
“When we do job interviews it’s the key thing.
“A lot of people don’t want to go to the cities. We have a lot of customers saying there is no way they would go to Leicester or Peterborough.
“People are pleasantly surprised here. We have more time to speak to customers.
“It’s more relaxing shopping in Oakham. We do get busy but we still make sure we have that time to spend with people.”
Plenty of traders are taking part in Small Business Saturday. One of these is Lambs, which has stores in St Mary’s Street and St Paul’s Street, Stamford. Partner Janet Brown thinks the shops can cater for any gift requirement.
She said: “People need to see something that jumps out at them and a lot of people come to us for that. A lot of our customers come back to do their Christmas shopping every year.
“We pride ourselves on our product knowledge. We can advise people. Many don’t know what they want until they start talking to us.
“We like to think we are the ideal retailer for Christmas.”
The Love Stamford discount card was recently set up to promote local businesses and give shoppers an extra incentive to visit independent retailers.
Web designer Alex Curtis, who created the card, said the Small Business Saturday idea was exactly the right message to put across.
He added: “It’s a national campaign that supports what we are trying to do locally. We are trying to drive independent retail and get people to think about shopping locally rather than nationally.
“It’s a shame it’s only one day a year but if it does raise awareness that’s great.”