Independent traders in an East Devon town are tackling a high street crisis with a message to consumers – shop local. And, if your business is based in Axminster, you can be part of an exciting new initiative to really drive that message home.
Axminster is looking to the future, ahead of the closure of the landmark Trinity House department store. It is due to shut up shop in just a few weeks’ time – hot on the heels of a failed bid to win government funding to improve the town centre.
Enter Totally Locally Axminster – set up by independent traders, who believe positive action now is critical to the future of the town.
The initiative, due to be launched in October, aims to win consumer recognition for small businesses as the ‘bedrock of Axminster‘. Importantly, it aims to press home the message that buying locally means more local jobs, better local facilities and a nicer place to live.
The central message is: “If every adult in Axminster and the surrounding area spent just £5 per week in their local independent shops that they would otherwise have spent online, in supermarkets or with the huge multi-nationals, it would put around £1.8 million a year back into our local economy.”
Sixty town across the UK have already turned to the multi award-winning Totally Locally to help save their town centres from the threat posed by the internet and big national stores.
Totally Locally Axminster was the brainchild of Archway Bookshop, Axminster Printing, Auxilia Business Services, Collate Interiors, the Courthouse Makers, the Sweet Shop, and the Community Waffle House. Now 30 shops and businesses are backing the initiative and more are being urged to get involved.
Totally Locally Axminster ‘at a formative stage’
Barrie Hedges, a member of the small team at the Archway Bookshop, said: “We are still at a formative stage and haven’t yet been able to talk to every business, but we do now have sufficient momentum to have confidence that it can work.
“We would like to hear from any trader in Axminster and the surrounding villages who wants to play their part in what needs to be a sustained long-term campaign. This is not a quick fix and it requires input right across the community.”
Jane Rockett, of Axminster Printing, adds: “We want people to become a tourist in their own town and to look with fresh eyes at what they can source on their own doorsteps,” she says.
“It really is a town with lots of hidden gems. It is also important to recognise that when you spend money at a local shop it then circulates locally because that trader pays wages to local people and buys services from other local traders.
“Spend £10 in a local shop and the actual benefit in the immediate area is more like £50.”
Week-long initial programme
Totally Locally Axminster will launch with an initial week-long event in October and will then make longer-term plans to build the impetus through Christmas and beyond.
All the details of the October event will be available shortly via the facebook page @totallylocallyaxminster. There is also a specific group for traders taking part @totallylocallyaxminsterhighstreetplanners.
The initiative has the support of local councillors, the Axminster Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Light-Up Axminster, but is being run by volunteers and fuelled on enthusiasm.
A statement issued by the group says: “Our hope is that we can all work together to overcome the significant blow from closure of our biggest store. Positive action is needed from all parties, and we will certainly play our part.
Be part of Totally Locally Axminster
“Totally Locally isn’t anti-supermarket or anti-internet,” says Chris Sands, who founded the national initiative. “There is a place for all these things in our lives.
“It’s just highlighting how a small change in spending habits can make a huge change to your town. We have a choice to make the place we live that little bit better by just diverting £5 of our weekly spend back into our local economy. And everyone wants their town to be great, don’t they?”.
Traders wishing to join can contact Barrie Hedges firstname.lastname@example.org 07899 923756.