Saffron Walden Town Team update: Spending locally keeps money in town

PUBLISHED: 09:00 14 December 2016 | UPDATED: 09:53 14 December 2016

Saffron Walden High Street

Saffron Walden High Street

Archant

The festive season has opened with a loud ta-dah in Saffron Walden. What a weekend we just had - reflecting months of hard work by the volunteers on the charity stalls, the entertainers, the good cheer of shopkeepers and market traders and not to mention the odd glass of mulled wine just to keep the chill off on a cold evening.

At Town Team Towers we’ve spent the last few weeks preparing the 4th Indie Retail Challenge. This year it’s the biggest yet with 34 businesses taking part.

All you need to do is visit at least 10 of them and spend £50 shopping locally during December and you could to win hundreds of pounds in vouchers to spend in January.

Look out for posters in participating shop windows or pick up a leaflet from the Tourist Information Centre.

To mark the start the challenge and get into the festive spirit about 50 of us raised a glass, at Cheddar Vine, to the businesses taking part and to the support we get from our town and district councils.

Our very own Wendy Howell arrived hot foot from Downing Street where she’d been invited to a reception for business owners selected as Small Business 100 companies.

And we’ll be back in London next week at the finals of the 2016 Great British High Street awards. Watch this space for news of how we get on.

We’re so lucky to have lots of independent boutiques here. The average mix of independent shops is about 20% but here more than 40% are independent and the traders and shopkeepers are working really hard to give you the great service you want, find you the quirky items you like, and do it all for a fair price.

When I walked around town making sure businesses part had their starter pack for the Challenge I was struck by the diverse lot we have. Everything from hairdressers, barbers and beauty salons via photographers, delicatessens and wine merchants to shops that sell electrical goods, saucepans, and even beach barbecues. And if that’s not enough when I get bored of shopping I can go to the cinema or a gallery or just sit down and have a coffee. And I love knowing that if I do buy anything about 70% of any money I spend stays in the local community.

Of course the shops and businesses in Saffron Walden don’t provide everything, but we want to encourage everyone to think about how important it is we protect our vibrant and diverse community. Buying locally supports local traders, suppliers and the people they depend on to run their businesses. It boosts the local economy, supports the community, and helps small businesses prosper and grow.

It’s genuinely a case of ‘use it or lose it’. We’re seeing this happening in lots of towns and we don’t want it to happen here.

As Charles Dickens almost said ‘I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year; and I won’t forget to use my local shop or that in December parking is free after 2pm in all the town’s car parks, except Fairycroft and Waitrose.’

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