09/04/18: Breckland Council joins traders in fight back for small businesses, as one of county's oldest market towns goes digital in district-wide Market Town revival

9 April 2018

Local independent shops in one of Norfolk's oldest market towns will celebrate a move into the digital age at a launch event this week. With the help of Breckland Council, local shops are fighting back against multi-national chains and online giants with an innovative new scheme that brings local shops together in one place.

The scheme will be the first of its kind in Norfolk and will create a 'digital highstreet' for each of its Breckland's market towns - Swaffham, Dereham, Watton, Attleborough and Thetford - enabling shoppers to browse and buy from local independent stores via a single website - www.shopappy.com. This will give independent shops a 24-hour web presence and enable shoppers to 'click and collect' their purchases from in store or out-of-hours collection points.

To celebrate the Breckland launch, the council is joining forces with local independent shops to give away free 'Swaffham Sizzler' hotdogs at Swaffham Marketplace on Friday 13 April (11am-1pm) and the event will include music, dancing emojis, a free prize draw and vouchers to encourage people to take advantage of the new service as well as stalls to celebrate local shopping.

The free taste of the local Swaffham Sizzler sausages will mean one of the most traditional products for the area will go digital. The Swaffham Sizzlers are based on a closely-guarded 100-year-old family recipe and are made by local butcher, Impsons. The rolls at the event will be provided by the town's Wellbread Bakers bakery, while delicious coffees will be provided by Swaffham's Market Cross Cafe Bar. Each of the businesses have been quick to sign up to join the shop-local online initiative.

Alex Long of Impson Traditional 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."

Breckland Council is funding the project for three years as part of its ongoing Market Town Initiative, which aims to ensure the district's towns remain vibrant and sustainable in the long-term.

Cllr William Nunn, Breckland Council's Leader, 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.

"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. I hope lots of people will come along to help us celebrate the launch and find out more about how they can show their support for the independent shops in Attleborough, Thetford, Dereham, Swaffham and Watton."

ShopAppy was launched in November 2016 by Yorkshire-based former University lecturer Dr Jackie Mulligan in her hometown of Saltaire and has quickly expanded to cover 11 more towns in Yorkshire. Breckland's towns are the first outside of Yorkshire to join the shop local movement that seeks to bring a local alternative for people wanting online convenience but still preferring to spend their money locally.

Dr Jackie Mulligan of ShopAppy.com said: "This first of our national launches shows how easy it is to get a scheme going. In less than two months, we have almost 100 shops and market stalls now joining an amazing shop window for Breckland towns. This is a customer-driven initiative to keep our High Streets and town centres thriving, councils, trade organisations, BIDs and retailers need to work together to help encourage more local custom - the ability to easily go digital is a big step in the right direction to inspire more people to shop locally. Breckland is helping visitors and residents get convenience with a local conscience."

Feature and interview opportunities:

·         Members of the media are invited to Swaffham Market Place for the ShopAppy launch event, taking place on Friday 13 April (11am-1pm).

·         There will be opportunities to interview senior councillors from Breckland Council; Jackie Mulligan, Founder of ShopAppy; and various local independent shop owners.

·         Feature opportunity - making the '100 year old Swaffham Sizzler' with local butcher

·         Feature opportunity - celebrating this 'game changer' with local games shop owner

·         Feature opportunity - Delve into the Aladdin's Cave-style treasure trove at Ciclic, a retro clothes and furniture store

·         Feature opportunity - Learn to bake bread at with artisan bakers Wellbread

Last updated: 25/09/2018 14:20:10