Fife town traders unite to promote shop local message

Burntisland is set to build on the success of its independent retailers, by offering shoppers a series of deals for just £5.

Thursday, 6th February 2020, 11:56 am
Updated Thursday, 6th February 2020, 12:50 pm
Pic: Fife Photo Agency
Pic: Fife Photo Agency

Business owners are banding together to take part in Fiver Fest, which aims to make special offers to shoppers in the town.

Over 40 local firms in the town are involved in the event, which is backed by a range of businesses involved in areas like food and drink, hair and beauty, garages, fitness, dry cleaners, and even taxis.

This year’s event is being organised by Yvonne Shivas of home restaurant business Cromwell Kitchen, and runs from February 15-29.

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It comes courtesy of the Totally Locally group, which aims to regenerate UK High Streets.

Yvonne said: “I took over the Totally Locally promotions at the end of last year, and they’re putting on another Fiver Fest, so I’ve been going around talking to people and getting them involved.

“I thought it’d be good to make a big push because of all the positivity around Burntisland High street.

“It’s totally voluntary for businesses to take part. It’s trying to encourage shoppers to spend £5 or more at a local business.

“We have everybody from the cafes, the butcher, beauty Salons, artists, podiatrists, and a couple of the pubs might even join in.

“We’re just trying to spread it as far and wide as possible, and not just focusing on the High Street because there’s quite a lot of hidden businesses in the town that people may not necessarily know about because they might not have a shop front.

“There are a whole range of businesses involved, and if nothing else it shows you just what the town’s got.”

It has been claimed by organisers that if every adult in Burntisland spent just £5 per week at an independent shop or business instead of at a multi-national firm, an extra £1.2m would go into the local economy.

Totally Locally is a volunteer-run organisation which offers advice on how small independent traders can collaborate to promote themselves and each other.

It was founded by Chris Sands, who had the idea after being tasked with his local council in Halifax to promote the town.

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Now, eight years later, Totally Locally is a brand which can be seen as far away as Canada and Australia.

Chris said: “My background is in marketing and branding. My local council asked me to do something to help in a ‘shop local’ campaign, but I did it in a lot more detail than most would normally do.

“Totally Locally is a big resource that teaches independent shops how to work together and it’s basically a free marketing kit.

“We tell people to leave their egos at the door and promote each other rather than just yourself.

“There’s a closed Facebook group of about 900 people from all over the world who help each other out. So if someone asks a question in Scotland or London,another group member in New Zealand might answer it.

“We call it the economics of being nice.”

With the idea of spending locally gaining more traction, it wasn’t long before Fiver Fest was born.

“We have this £5 message that says to people ‘it’s really easy to shop locally’.

“We’re saying it’s ok to shop at a supermarket, but spend £5 locally.

“Fiver Fest is going to be in about 83 towns this time.”

The idea behind the endeavour is one of collaboration, which suits a community-minded town like Burntisland perfectly.

Chris said: “Nearly all the independent shops spend locally themselves, they all have a window cleaner, and an accountant, and it’s all about circulating the money around among local suppliers.

“On average, most small businesses have 16 local supliers, so when you’re spending with one you’re spending with all of these people. They all interconnect and they all rely on each other.

“The most we found was that one shop had 79 local suppliers, so in our little towns thousands of businesses are all linked in one way or another, so it’s quite a powerful message.”

Chris had also heard of the problems facing retailers in Fife.

He added: “Kirkcaldy’s struggling, and Burntisland isn’t. My assessment on that is that businesses are working together, instead of seeing each other as rivals, they see each other as allies.”

Rebecca Braid, of cafe The Roasting Project, said the spirit of collaboration is very much part of the event: “Everyone takes part, they’re working together, and the customers love it as they’ve got a great choice.

“We’re doing Tom Court’s sausage roll with Irn Bru for Fiver Fest.”

Nova Gamble of Novelli’s ice cream shop said: “It’s giving people an incentive to visit the High Street and give a bit back.

“Burntisland is a strong community with everyone working together and we have a lot of support for the High Street.”

Louise Humpington of Grain and Sustain said: “I think it’s important to give something back to the communities which have worked so hard to support us, and also to show people from outwith the town just how much there is on offer in Burntisland.”