Traders launch ‘totally local’ group in Axminster

Axminster's Trinity House department store is to close in September. Picture Chris Carson

Axminster's Trinity House department store is to close in September. Picture Chris Carson - Credit: Archant

Independent traders in Axminster are fighting back against the town’s high street crisis by joining forces to deliver a crucial ‘shop local’ message.

McColl's newsagents was the latest Axminster town centre business to close but new independent reta

McColl's newsagents was the latest Axminster town centre business to close but new independent retailers have recenly opened in town. Picture Chris Carson - Credit: Archant

With the landmark Trinity House department store due to close its doors in a few weeks' time and Axminster having lost out in a recent bid for Government high street funding, smaller traders believe positive action is critical.

They have now set up Totally Locally Axminster to achieve recognition for their role as 'the bedrock of the local community' and to persuade local people that buying locally means more local jobs, better local facilities and a nicer place to live.

The central message that will drive its campaign is: "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."

Axminster is joining a cohort of more than 60 UK towns who have turned to the multi-award winning Totally Locally to help save their town centres from the threat posed by the internet and big national stores. The initiative started out as a small idea in the North of England and has gone viral to become a multi-award-winning worldwide movement.

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In Axminster, the motivation comes from a small group of traders including the Archway Bookshop, Axminster Printing, Auxilia Business Services, Collate Interiors, the Courthouse Makers, the Sweet Shop, and the Community Waffle House. They have, in turn, approached others and so far support has come from some 30 shops and businesses.

Those driving the project include Barrie Hedges, a member of the small team at the Archway Bookshop.

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He told The Herald: "We are still at a formative stage and haven't yet been able to talk to every business, but we do now have sufficient momentum to have confidence that it can work.

"We would like to hear from any trader in Axminster and the surrounding villages who wants to play their part in what needs to be a sustained long-term campaign. This is not a quick fix and it requires input right across the community."

Jane Rockett of Axminster Printing is similarly committed.

She said: "We want people to become a tourist in their own town and to look with fresh eyes at what they can source on their own doorsteps.

"It really is a town with lots of hidden gems. It is also important to recognise that when you spend money at a local shop it then circulates locally because that trader pays wages to local people and buys services from other local traders.

"Spend £10 in a local shop and the actual benefit in the immediate area is more like £50."

Totally Locally Axminster will launch with an initial week-long initiative in October and will then make longer term plans to build the impetus through Christmas and beyond. All the details of the October event will be available shortly via the facebook page @totallylocallyaxminster. There is also a specific group for traders taking part @totallylocallyaxminsterhighstreetplanners.

The initiative has the support of local councillors, the Axminster Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Light-Up Axminster but is being run by volunteers and fuelled on enthusiasm.

A spokesman for the group said: "Our hope is that we can all work together to overcome the significant blow from closure of our biggest store.

"Positive action is needed from all parties, and we will certainly play our part."

Traders wishing to join can contact Barrie Hedges 07899 923756.

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