Proud to be independent and unique

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SLEAFORD businesses are preparing to celebrate their uniqueness and fly the flag for smaller shops on national Independents’ Day.

Sleaford Business Investment District group is urging traders to throw their weight behind a Skillsmart Retail initiative, by shouting about what makes them stand out from the crowd.

On Wednesday, July 4, shopkeepers and towns throughout the country will celebrate the many and varied independent retailers in the UK. The aim is to raise awareness of the contribution these businesses make to their local communities and to encourage shoppers to buy at least one item from them on the day.

BID manager Emma Batty said: “Independent businesses are what make market towns extra special and give them their character. They are well-placed to offer shoppers something different and ready to go the extra mile when it comes to personal service.

“Fears continue to be voiced about High Streets up and down the country but in Sleaford we not only have long-established private businesses but a steady stream of newcomers too, which all helps to give the town its unique ambience.

“Retailers can help to spread the word and promote the Skillsmart campaign to customers by popping special ‘Your local shops need you!’ posters in their windows. These can be down loaded from the website, Retail Independents’ Day page,” added Mrs Batty.

Suzanne Smith and Mark Askew of Bennellies in Southgate. are supporting the initiative.

Suzanne said: “We established Bennellies as an on-line business in 2007 and developed it to the point where we sell 3,000 items, including clothing, equipment and accessories for premature babies up to tots aged three,

”We’ve been open a year and, although it has taken time to get the shop established, we now employ two people. We also continue to look out for unusual products, which you can’t get everywhere else, which is what people say they like about us.”

Husband-and-wife Richard and Christine Glenn launched Soft Options two years ago. Their Market Place shop sells curtains, blinds, housewares, gifts, offers blind repairs and even has 100 wallpaper books.

Richard said: “We opened the shop because I was long experienced in installing blinds and felt there was a gap in the market for a local blinds specialist. Christine had taken redundancy from a local business and we were eager to try a new venture together.

“The real strength of being a private business is that we can cater for customers’ individual needs and respond accordingly. What is really nice about Sleaford is that it is not a ‘clone’ town, there are specialist and independent businesses all over, but shoppers and visitors need to take time out to explore and find them.”