Businesses of all sizes are coming together to throw their weight behind Axminster’s new Totally Locally initiative. Organisers say they are surprised at the sheer level of enthusiasm for the campaign.
Since its launch just a few weeks ago, almost 40 businesses have joined the drive to get the community to support its independent traders.
Those who have signed up to the initiative range from the town’s biggest employers, Axminster Tools and Axminster Carpets, through to several food shops, bakeries, gift shops, cafes, pubs, and a chemist.
Other sectors represented include fashion, jewellery, books, stationery, printing, pets, hairdressing, sweets, antiques, travel, and furniture restoration.
At fashion store Labels for Less, owner Louise Wall says: “We really believe Totally Locally can put Axminster on the map again.”
Meanwhile, Axminster Carpets managing director Jonathan Young says: “We are delighted to support Totally Locally Axminster.”
The company’s Factory Shop, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, will play an active part in the campaign, and employees right across the local business are being urged to use their personal spending power locally.
Totally Locally Axminster is launching with a week-long ‘Fiver Fest’ from October 5 to 12, which will see individual independent businesses offering good value deals for £5.
The aim is to promote one pivotal message: “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.”
The campaign owes its strategy to the national Totally Locally initiative, which started out as a small idea in the North of England and has gone viral to become a multi-award-winning worldwide movement.
The new impetus to push Axminster’s positives come at a time when the landmark Trinity House department store is due to close its doors in a few weeks’ time. The town also lost out in a recent bid for Government high street funding.
“No-one is going to do it for us so it’s up to the independent traders who make this town tick to get the community behind us,” says Jane Rockett of Axminster Printing, which is currently celebrating 50 years in the town. “The independents have always been here and we are its future — but we will only survive if people who live locally are prepared to back us.”
She adds: “The key point we are making is that it requires only a small change in habits to turn the tide. The £5 you spend with a local shop or business will usually stay in Axminster because it will be used to pay wages and to buy services from other local traders.”
Totally Locally: ‘Enthusiasm has taken us by surprise’
The huge level of support for the initiative has surprised the small team which first discussed the idea only a few weeks ago.
“Our aim was to attract maybe 20 traders for the Fiver Fest,” says Barrie Hedges from the Archway Bookshop. “The sheer enthusiasm has taken us by surprise — if we can match that it terms of the public response, we will be delighted.”
“While we hope the traders taking part will be rewarded with lots of sales for the Fiver Fest special offers, this is in reality a long term campaign – there are no quick fixes for high streets like ours. It only works if people are prepared to make a long term change in their shopping habits. If they do that in Axminster, then everyone here will see a big long-term benefit.”
Traders wishing to join can contact Barrie Hedges firstname.lastname@example.org or Jane Rockett email@example.com.