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Local Businesses are Fragile - Support Them... or Lose Them

Saturday 17 April 2010, 21:50
By John Smith

Why do people go to Yeovil or other large towns to shop? Ok, I have to accept that there are some things that you can't buy in Wincanton. However there is an awful lot of stuff that you can buy, or do locally.

I want to encourage you all to support your local businesses. We are doing our best to bring new and interesting businesses to town. This is a hard job because most of the big names are not interested in small towns. They like the Yeovils of the world because of the bigger populations.

If we want to retain an interesting and vibrant town we have to work smart and create an atmosphere of interest and encourage a selection of interesting and possibly niche market businesses to open here in Wincanton.

We recently saw the arrival of The Co-op in our key town centre unit. Their arrival was more like a huge party. Well, the honeymoon period is now over and The Co-op, like all our other High Street traders, have to rely on the day to day trade from people who shop in town. Support them!

Where do you shop? Do you shop locally, or are you one of the many who go to Yeovil or other surrounding larger towns? The last thing I want to do is tell you not to go to other places to shop. But I do want to appeal to you to try your best to buy locally. It's easy to get into the mindset that because you go to Yeovil for the cinema, you can also shop there. The next time you do that, have a look at what you buy and ask yourself if you could have bought that in Wincanton.

We need the residents of Wincanton to rally behind their local businesses. If you don't use local services you could be in danger of losing some of them. Life is hard enough for our local businesses under normal circumstances, but in the current financial difficulties we are in danger of losing some of them. Their survival could well be in your hands. Deciding to shop locally more often could make all the difference.

I just listened to a sad interview on Midwest radio. Wincanton Garden Centre opposite Wincanton Racecourse has worked hard to get established. Mark and Debbie have done a marvellous job up there. They got to the start of the spring market when garden centres see the first main injection of business, when all the gardeners spring into action buying all the stuff they need for the season ahead. Unfortunately for Mark and Debbie they have been hit by a double whammy. Maybe even a triple whammy. Closure of the A303 for a five week period, the worst winter in 30 years keeping people indoors, and finally the closure of the bridge in North Street for repairs. Mark and Debbie saw their business turnover decimated because clients could not access the garden centre in the normal way.

With lack of both cooperation from officialdom and support from the local community they have had to put the business into administration. It's a tragedy! The business is far from closed. The potential in this one business is great, but Mark and Debbie may end up selling to someone else who will step in and reap the benefits of all their hard work. They will be the only losers. Where is the fairness in that? Simply put this isn't fair in any way shape or form. That's why we need to change our mindset. We need to support our local businesses or continue to lose them.

Our local businesses may find it hard to compete with major chains purely on price, but they can give you a better and more personal service. You can ask their advice at any time. Your local businesses need your support to survive.

Local business community + Support of local residential community


Successful and vibrant town community

One without the other weakens our town. Support our local businesses, or lose them. I want to be able to wander round an interesting High Street with a decent selection of interesting and unique shops.

What's the alternative?

A residential town centre with few, if any shops.

It's a no brainer. Support your local shops and businesses.

John Smith
Chairman, Wincanton Businesses Together (WBT)


Posts: 1
Local Shopping
Reply #1 on : Fri November 05, 2010, 23:50:01
In response to John Smith comments regarding the support of local traders, I could'nt agree with him more. Although, the sad reality is (especially in times of ecoomic hardship) that the majority of shoppers are quite happy to make that trip to Yeovil or suchlike as they 'believe' that the goods there are cheaper and that they have a much larger selection of goods on offer.
The latter mat be true, but price-wise the majority of products and services offered by local traders is extremely competitive to say nothing of the personal service by our local traders.
Many years ago there was some talk of a 'loyalty' discount card to encourage the public to shop locally - maybe this should be looked at again to promote in-town shopping? Is this something local businesses would be interested in?
Posts: 2
Local Shopping
Reply #2 on : Mon November 08, 2010, 17:32:52
Thanks for your comments Graham. It may sound a bit crazy, but I am starting to think that Wincanton's best kept secret is in fact it's own High Street. Maybe because we live in Wincanton we don't really appreciate what we have here.

We are once again on the run up to our 2010 Christmas Extravaganza. On that night we will have (weather permitting) losts of people on our High Street enjoying the ambience of the evening. It's a great event and one of the Highlights of the year. And yet it can be even bigger and better if the people of Wincanton and district support it. It encourages our traders.

Every year to date we have had regular new visitors from surrounding towns and villages and I am always being told that they never knew that Wincanton was so good. Every year I hear the same.

I call on the people of Wincanton to stand tall and be proud of this town that you live in. It's a great town and we have a lot going on. Our High Street shops are the best they have been in years. Yes we have a few blanks, and they are generally the larger units that are hard to fill in a small market town. All the candidates want to be on retail parks in bigger centres. When Wincanton grows a bit more this will help us.

That aside I believe that we have a great mix of excellent and interesting shops and businesses. We as a community need to learn to shout about it.

So you all of you who naturally run to nearby larger shopping centres, I challenge you to cut back a bit and try shopping locally. I was very surprised at the sensible prices I found. I was overwhelmed by good, personal, and informative service, and that has to count.

Like Graham, I say please send us your feedback and ideas. Tell us what you think Wincanton needs. All positive and constructive criticism is valuable.

Graham is right that a former Chamber of Commerce was considering a loyalty scheme. At that time the logistics of a town wide scheme proved to hard to manage. However we are open to suggestions and I am sure that loyalty schemes would be given serious consideration.

Contact us today:

WBT (Wincanton Businesses Together)
Last Edit: November 08, 2010, 18:32:21 by johnsmith  
Nick Colbert
Posts: 3
Local shopping
Reply #3 on : Thu November 11, 2010, 11:09:53
I recently drove from Yeovil, after dropping my daughter off at school, to buy some badminton kit at RAM Sports in Wincanton, I could have bought it at Intersports in Yeovil but preffer to support our local buisnesses. The problm as I see it is the public need an incentive to shop locally. I like Grahams suggestion of a 'Loyalty discount scheme' it raises the profile of local people to think about shopping locally and rewards them for their choice. Over to you John.
Posts: 2
Re: Local Businesses are Fragile - Support Them... or Lose Them
Reply #4 on : Thu November 11, 2010, 14:03:34
Interesting choice of photo, Nick ;)

I've just bought my fourth raquet from RAM. I've never bought one anywhere else. If I stopped hitting people with my raquets I'd probably save quite a bit, but I feel the biggest problem here is that it's difficult to fully appreciate the benefits.

I've not had to wait to get my raquet delivered.
I could pick and choose on the spot, handling them myself, so it's better than ordering online.
I've got somewhere local to go back to when I next imprint the pattern of my strings on someone's face.
The local shop will get the benefit of my experience, and I can help future buyers by telling the shop owner what I thought of the product.
I actually ran all the way up town and back again, so that makes me feel quite good too.

I suppose highstreet shops struggle to justify advertising products at anything less than RRP, so if everyone bought locally we might see that change and then EVERYBODY wins.

A loyalty system is a good way to achieve that I reckon.
Last Edit: November 11, 2010, 14:04:04 by davidsmith  

Posts: 1
Local Shopping
Reply #5 on : Thu November 11, 2010, 14:33:08
I’m going to get hate mail for this contribution but I’ll stick my head above the parapet and say it anyway. I do a great deal of my shopping in Yeovil and a fair bit online.

The simple reason is this: I just can’t get everything I need in Wincanton and as a busy working mum I don’t have time to dash about lots of different High Streets to complete my shopping.

Where in Wincanton can I get clothing? Where can I get kids’ shoes? I did once turn off the A303 to Yeovil as I realised that the only reason I was going was because I needed new shoes for the children. I actually drove back to Wincanton and popped into Sydney Brocks, only to be told they didn’t stock children’s shoes anymore!

The floor space of many of our High Street shops means they are more suited to selling small retail items – I’d love to buy more from Jerrys Electrical but they simply don’t have the room to stock a decent selection of large electrical appliances.

We do have a diverse range of shops and I love browsing through them when I get the chance, but in terms of practicality, only a few shops meet my everyday needs.
Nick Colbert
Posts: 3
Local shopping
Reply #6 on : Thu November 11, 2010, 19:45:19
Is this a better photo David? :)
Mandy is quite right, people will shop where there is choice and value, Janet was in Bath today, she assures me only window shopping. As Wincanton grows it needs better facilities, shops and employment, as it develops more people will shop here. In the meantime I think the loyalty card idea is as good as any I have heard.
Posts: 2
Re: Local Businesses are Fragile - Support Them... or Lose Them
Reply #7 on : Thu November 11, 2010, 19:58:24
Yeah much better. Was that from badminton on Wednesday? I didn't realise anyone had a camera...

So, at the risk of sounding pesimistic, is that to say that a town/village needs to reach its critical mass before its Highstreet can thrive?
Nick Colbert
Posts: 3
Local shops
Reply #8 on : Fri November 12, 2010, 00:34:08
I think so, but its not pesimistic, we only have to ensure the town grows sensibly. We have the A303 on our doorstep which should lead to good industrial estates as access for HGV1 vehicles is essential. i.e. they can get off the industrial estates and onto the dual carrigeway efficiently and without annoying other road users. Unlike Castle Cary, Gillingham, Shaftesbury, Frome, Shepton Mallet or Yeovil we are in a location which allows easy access to arterial roads with direct access to major ports. That should lead to jobs which should lead to homes to house the employees which in turn benefits the town centre and all the buisnesses which are there. We only have to guide planners in the right direction.
OK I got rid of the photograph of me wearing a terry nappy.
Posts: 2
Local Shops
Reply #9 on : Fri November 12, 2010, 10:41:52
We have clearly hit a nerve on this one. Well done guys. Great to see people who care enough about our High Streets to take the time to bring comments to the table. As chairman of WBT (Wincanton Businesses Together) I am taking this on board and I will be bringing this to our committee so that we can examine all possible ways to make local shopping more attractive to our residents.

Shopping in the High Street is a huge issue. There's no question that the birth of the out of town/edge of town shopping has put tremendous pressure on High Street Trading. I remember a time when you could open a High Street business and have pretty good expectations that the local support would be strong and you would make a decent living, just by being there.

Today I think we are beginning to experience one of a series of wake up calls. Today High Street traders can't afford to have such easy going expectations. They really have to work very hard if they are to be successful. The competition from the big boys is now too great. You need to choose your battles more carefully. There's no point in taking on the big boys when they can knock our prices cheaper than the prices our High Street traders pay their suppliers. That is just plain crazy.

Wincanton is a good example. We now have a High Street with a good range of shops that have interesting, and some very practical products to sell. We do get many positive comments about our shops, but Mandy is right. We do have some glaring gaps. I wasn't aware that you couldn't get kids shoes. We do have at least two shops who sell quality women's clothing, but hey, I'm a bloke, what do i know about women's clothing (I don't expect to see any comments about that statement). Speaking for the blokes, unless like me you live in shorts or training pants there is nothing in Wincanton.

So yes there are gaps. major gaps that we need to try and address. Nick is also correct that the only way we can address some of the gaps is to see Wincanton expand. I know that will be a sensitive subject and a lot of people don't want to see Wincanton grow. After all they moved to Wincanton because it is a small sleepy market town. A much nicer place than London. I understand that, but we need to understand that like many things in life, if we don't move forward we will simply stagnate. We would even be in danger of losing what we have now.

We need very careful and considerate planning (Now there's a thought to scare the pants off you). Who ever heard of considerate and careful planning? We need this desperately so that Wincanton can grow steadily without losing it's character and all that makes it a great town.

So the challenge is there. This town can be even better if we all do our bit. If you have any ideas to bring to the table, let me know. To be an even better town our residential community and our business community need to communicate clearly with each other. Together we can achieve.

Contact me on You can also help by supporting The Wincanton People's Plan. The Plan is very active and has just set up the various committes to deal with all issues. Help us to help Wincanton.

A huge thanks to The Wincanton Window for bringing this great WebZine to us. This is a great vehicle for people to stand up and speak their minds. Spread the word. Tell people about The Window. Send all your friends a link so thatthey can open up The Window and be part of this great adventure. Keep up the great work.
Posts: 1
Local Shops grants
Reply #10 on : Fri January 21, 2011, 13:51:32
Use it or lose it - Retail support grants from South Somerset District Council ask for
Last Edit: January 21, 2011, 13:51:51 by MikeAllen  

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