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Small town takes on the big boys for Black Friday

Market town of Helmsley in North Yorkshire urges shoppers to keep it local and independent this Christmas

A market town in North Yorkshire is hitting back at ‘big store’ Black Friday, by encouraging shoppers to instead support their local retailers this Christmas and get a better long term ‘deal’.

Organisations in the town of Helmsley, which is based on the edge of the North York Moors National Park, have got together to create their own unique Gift Guide and are launching it in the run up to Black Friday to show Christmas shoppers there is an alternative to the mad scenes of 2014. The gift guide can be accessed at www.visithelmsley.co.uk/gift-guide/

The town, which is currently a finalist in the Great British High Street Awards, was determined to show how an entire Christmas shop could be done there, whilst supporting independent businesses and keeping trade local. Shopping locally supports the whole community financially, with research showing that for every £1 spent with a small or medium-sized business, 63p stays in the local economy, compared to just 40p with a larger business.

Carolyn Frank, member of Helmsley in Business and owner of Libby Butler Jewellers, explains: “We wanted to do this to show people how important it is, especially at this time of year, to think about supporting local retailers and businesses. Black Friday deals might be very enticing, but our message is don’t be tempted by discounts to buy something you might regret later – look at the purchase carefully to make sure you’re getting true value for money at the best quality for your budget.

“Independent retailers can offer very competitive prices, but they usually operate at lower margins and therefore can’t always discount as much as the big boys. The advantage of shopping small is being able to find something out of the ordinary – and the service will be second to none, with retailers who have probably handpicked each of their products and who will offer great after sales service too. Independent businesses are closer to their customers and buy with them in mind, so you can often find the perfect gift by shopping small. We know how tight budgets are, and how short of time many of us are, and we wanted to make it as easy as possible for people so we’ve worked together to compile a combined gift guide with some of the great products available from businesses in the town. It’s really just a taster of what’s actually available in the town though.”

Simon Williams, North Yorkshire Regional Chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, added: “No one likes to see empty high streets. Helmsley is a great place to shop, and is lucky to have nearly 100% occupancy and huge variety, but so many towns are finding it hard. It doesn’t take much for a few businesses to start struggling, to close down and then the whole town has a different feel about it. When you buy from a local business, you aren’t lining the pockets of some faraway investor, you’re helping keep a town alive, you’re building a community and putting food on the table of a hard-working business owner.”

Some of the products in the guide can be ordered online. Products available include everything from jewellery sets and festive hampers to spa or afternoon tea vouchers and board games.

Helmsley is also supporting Small Business Saturday, which takes place on 5th December. The town will be running a festive fun day, full of activities, competitions, freebies, entertainment, music and rides, including a temporary ice rink and Christmas Tree Festival.

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