Independent shops join forces to fight back against national chains
- Credit: Matthew Usher
An innovative new scheme to help independent shops in Norfolk fight back against multi-national chains is set to be launched.
The project, a first of its kind in the county, will create a digital high street enabling shoppers to browse and buy from local shops via a single website.
Breckland Council is funding the project for three years as part of its ongoing Market Town Initiative to support businesses in Swaffham, Dereham, Thetford, Watton and Attleborough.
ShopAppy will enable independent shops in the district a 24-hour web presence. Shoppers can click and collect their purchases from in-store or at out-of-hours collection points.
The launch will take place at Swaffham Market Place on Friday.
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Breckland Council leader William Nunn said: 'This is a fantastic initiative which will be a game-changer for our local independent shops.
'The council has committed to subsidise the first 200 independent businesses that sign up to the project and we've had a wide range join already, from butchers and bakeries to cafes, craft stores and clothes shops – and many more too.
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'This is about so much more than a new website though, this is about encouraging a culture of supporting our independent shops and pulling together to protect our high streets.'
Impsons Traditional Butchers, from Swaffham, are joining the scheme aiming to revitalise the high Streets and town centres.
Their products, including a sausage made from a closely guarded 100-year-old family recipe, will be going digital.
Alex Long, of the Butchers, said: 'The Swaffham Sizzler may be from a 100-year-old recipe, but it's time to bring it into the 21st century.
'Being able to sell it online for the first time really gives us the chance to expand and enhance our business at a time when we and other independent retailers are fighting to keep our businesses alive.'
ShopAppy was launched by Jackie Mulligan in Saltaire, Yorkshire, in November 2016.
At the launch event, from 11am until 1pm, there will be music and a free prize draw and vouchers to encourage people to take advantage of the new service as well as stalls to celebrate local shopping.
Businesses and shop owners will be in attendance.