TODAY the Mercury is issuing a call to readers to shop local this Christmas.
Retailers across Stamford, the Deepings, Rutland and Bourne are backing our campaign because they, like us, believe our towns have everything a shopper needs.
The wonderful mix of independent traders and national chains means that it is possible to buy all your gifts here instead of shopping online or venturing to the bigger towns and cities.
Nicola Coldrick, the owner of Nook, which has gift and furniture shops in Sheep Market, Stamford, and High Street East, Uppingham, said: “Independent traders can only survive if local people support us and in return, there is an array of diverse products and friendly service.
“There are so many products to find in our little towns and it is a more enjoyable shopping experience.”
The owner of North Shoes James North opened a shop in Red Lion Square, Stamford, this summer, having already established the business in Bourne.
James said: “Towns like Stamford and Bourne have got a lot more to offer than people realise and I believe they provide a better service.
“Local shops will be flexible with things like gift receipts whereas a lot of the larger chains have a fixed 21-day return policy.”
Tim Walker is the managing director of Walkers Bookshop, which has a shop in High Street, Stamford, as well as stores in Oakham and Bourne.
He said: “Stamford, Oakham and Bourne, have the most fantastic selection of family-run and independent shops, where there are unique gifts to be found and I think the variety of shops is amazing.
“I really do think it is possible to source all your Christmas presents locally.”
Craig Benson, the owner of Black Orchid clothes shops in St Mary’s Street, Stamford and Orange Street, Uppingham, and Black Orchid Occasion in Stamford Walk, Stamford said: “Visitors to our market towns are the icing on the cake but local people are our bread and butter and we need them to support us.
“Stamford is a great place to go shopping at Christmas.”
Louise Collison, the owner of jewellery shop Murano Silver in Market Place, Market Deeping, said she felt it was really important for the community to support their local retailers.
“I personally prefer to shop in the Deepings or Stamford because it is a nicer environment,” she said. “It’s easier to park and you get a lot more unusual gifts.”
Stamford Chamber of Trade and Commerce is encouraging its members to stay open until 8pm on Thursdays in December.
Many shops will also open for the Stamford Christmas Festival on Sunday, December 11.
High Street, Red Lion Square, Sheep Market and Bath Row will be transformed with live entertainment, stalls, a grotto, funfair, children’s hat competition, arts and crafts and a food and drink fair.
Jenny Richardson runs soft furnishings shop Jenny May in Bourne with daughter Emily Richardson. They hope townsfolk will support local shops over the next few weeks.
Jenny said: “Local shops will always give you good service and value from staff who have the expertise to give you good advice. They will always give you friendly service.”
Sue Green is one of the directors of department store Fords of Oakham in Church Street. The shop, which has a range of gifts, clothing, kitchen goods and linen, will be really getting into the festive spirit when Santa Claus visits the store.
He will be hearing the wishes of children every Saturday in December, except Christmas Eve, and on December 19, 20 and 21.
Sue said: “People need to realise that unless they use their local stores they will lose us and we do have a lot to offer.
“We are competitively priced, people use less fuel to visit and we have more product knowledge and offer a better customer service.
“And we have a huge range - there is something for everyone this Christmas.”
Fiona Slater owns Wish gift shop and Twist clothes shop, both in High Street East, Uppingham.
She said: “There are unique and unusual gifts to be found in Rutland and the shops here have a better customer service.
“I think there is 10 times a better atmosphere in Uppingham and Oakham than there is in bigger cities. Shoppers who stay local really get into the spirit of things.”