Group editor Mark Edwards on the launch of our Shop Local campaign and the importance of the high street...
I am delighted that the Mercury is championing our independent businesses with our Shop Local, Eat Local, Play Local campaign.
The Mercury is very much at the heart of the local community so it’s appropriate that we should be offering our support - and, hopefully, the support of our loyal readers as well - to the many unique outlets at the heart of our town centre and surrounding areas.
And many of our sister titles across the country are also joining the campaign.
Our high streets have been squeezed for many years by out-of-town developments and increasing use of the internet, but they are now making a resurgence and it’s up to us to help ensure that they not only survive but prosper in the future.
Every high street in the country has been hit by the recession in recent years, and it is not only the small independents which have felt the crunch, with many once household names now also missing from our shopping experience.
Increasingly, shopping is being seen as a leisure pursuit and, while town and city centres must adapt to that by ensuring the facilities are up to standard and the night-time economy is supported and sustainable, we can play a part too.
Every pound spent locally can have huge benefits for the area, helping local businesses who, in turn, will employ local people.
Stamford town centre has fared better than most with new businesses filling many empty units.
Recently, Cloud Nine opened in Stamford Walk and expanded its shop in Market Deeping. 23-Seven also opened next door, filling the unit left empty by the departure of Ruby Loves.
In the High Street, The White Company, Steamer Trading Cookshop have also filled units in the High Street.
It is fantastic to have national retailers like Poundland moving into Stamford and taking up such a huge unit, but it is just as important that independent retailers like The Stamford Delicatessen and CycleWright also thrive because of the unique services and variety to give to the town centre.
It is essential that our local independent businesses get the support they need to maintain their place.
And in our other towns, the future is looking bright. In Bourne alone, Wild Heart Music in The Angel Precinct, Magpie’s Nest in Burghley Street, Mod ‘N’ Ink in South Street and RT’s American Diner in West Street have all opened recently.
Pre-packed sausages taste great but if you’ve ever bought some from Nelsons in Stamford you will agree that they are pretty special.
Local retailers are the backbone of our economy and if we can all give that little bit of extra support all of our towns and their businesses will ultimately benefit.
Over the course of this year, we will be throwing the spotlight on some of the successful businesses in the area, while bringing you great deals to allow you to sample some of the fantastic products and services they have on offer. And, as well as regular slots in the paper, you can check out our stories and videos online, as well as following us, and our sister papers, across the country on Twitter using the hashtag #jpshoplocal.
Please play your part by pledging to ‘Shop Local, Eat Local, Play Local’!