29 November 2018 Partner Content: American Express

Heart of the high street

Independent retailers and restaurants are the personality of British high streets, making the nation’s towns and cities as distinct and diverse as the people that live in them. Which is why American Express will once again shine a light on small businesses up and down the country through its Shop Small Campaign.

 

Now running for its sixth year, Shop Small helps drive new and existing customers through the doors of independent businesses, so they can demonstrate what they do best, whether that’s making and selling beautiful products or offering outstanding service.

The Shop Small initiative runs from 1 to 16 December 2018 and encourages American Express Cardmembers, including Business Cardmembers, to spend at independent stores, cafes and restaurants across the country by giving them a £5 credit when they spend £10 or more at participating businesses across the UK, once per location. The handy online interactive Shop Small map makes it easy to find places participating in the offer, as do the Shop Small stickers, which will be displayed in participating stores.*

Sager + Wilde, Foodies Delicatessen and Kensington Flowers are three examples of thriving local businesses which, as well as being American Express Business Cardmembers, are also taking part in this year’s Shop Small campaign.

Foodies Delicatessen

Sallianne David launched her deli in March 2017 to bring more variety of quality food to her high street. ‘It was just a desire to get better access to good local produce,’ she explains. ‘We used to go to local farmers’ markets in Kent, but those were very infrequent.’

It wasn’t until she committed to the idea of opening a delicatessen in Tunbridge Wells and began researching products to stock that she realised how many independent producers there were nearby. ‘There were so many in Kent – bakers, cheese makers, local coffee roasters – and their products were really good quality. Some of them have started to win global awards,’ she explains.

Foodies Delicatessen opened in a small shop on Tunbridge Wells’ Camden Road, but the business quickly outgrew the site and David moved to a new location after six months. ‘We moved into a larger shop and added more products. We’ve started stocking more from small British producers – trying to avoid the things you’d find in a supermarket,’ she explains.

The new site is on the same street, which David says has a great community feel thanks to its number of independent retailers. Foodies has around 500 customers signed up to its loyalty scheme, and David has recently started retailing online to continue her growing business.

Sager + Wilde

When Michael Sager opened his first wine bar in 2012, his vision for the business was simple: bring customers the nest quality wines from around the world, at an affordable price with fantastic service.

Michael Sager

Sager + Wilde on Hackney Road is now firmly established as one of London’s best destinations for great value, exceptional wines from staff who know their product inside out and can make informed recommendations.

‘The philosophy of Sager + Wilde is to bring you the good stuff, for the lowest possible price, whilst teaching you something new,’ says Michael. The team have carried this mentality into Sager + Wilde’s sister restaurant, which opened on Paradise Row in 2014 and offers seasonal dishes, made with best-in-class ingredients sourced from independent suppliers. ‘Our vision is to bring joy to wine,’ says Sager. ‘Wine should transport you to your holiday in California. That’s what we’re selling.’

Juliet Logan-Lynch, Kensington Flowers

Kensington Flowers

Kensington Flowers was already an established floristry business when Juliet Logan-Lynch and her father bought it in 2005. ‘It was a solid business but a bit dated,’ she explains. ‘We gave it a new lease of life.’

Since taking over 13 years ago, she’s introduced online retailing and partners with online bakery My Baker to offer cake and ower gift deliveries. ‘We get a lot of international orders now, so that’s really helped boost the business. There’s a big American community in Kensington, so we get orders from abroad to deliver to loved ones in the area’. 

Kensington Flowers had another revival three years ago when Logan-Lynch moved the business to a new premises. The new location gets more footfall, which means more customers through the door. ‘I’m lucky that I have a loyal base of customers and we have a lot of support from the local community.’

Rooted Spices

Rachel Walker was working as a food writer when she had the idea for her business. ‘If you look at who’s done very well out of food and drink over the last decade, there are a lot of speciality coffee, chocolate and tea brands. But there hadn’t been much in spices,’ she explains.

Together with childhood friend and former lawyer Clara Glass, the pair founded Rooted Spices, aiming to bring the best quality spices from around the world to the UK. The first step was to source the product, so they started calling in as many as 50 samples for each spice they wanted in the range. ‘We began to discover the different tasting notes,’ Rachel explains. ‘We knew there would be a difference, but I don’t think we appreciated how big the difference would be!’

Once they’d identified the best products for their range, Rachel and Clara partnered with a local design agency to develop the branding for Rooted Spices. ‘Having a strong design has been so important for us,’ Rachel adds. ‘We’re both quite risk averse and we spent a lot of time focusing on making sure that the branding was as good as it could be.’

Since launching in May, Rachel says, there’s been a very positive response to the brand. ‘‘We didn’t anticipate what a big demand there’d be,’ Rachel says. ‘We’ve been featured in lots of festive gift guides which has driven lots of orders. The plan for 2019 is a big push on the wholesale side of the business by selling into independent cafes and restaurants around the UK.’

 

Liquorice Tree 

It was a chance opportunity that led to the founding of Liquorice Tree. Owner Pat Davidson was looking for a new opportunity after a 25-year career in the airline industry, when she heard that Edinburgh Airport was on the hunt for new retail stores.

After securing the site,and recruiting an experienced retail manager to help run things, Pat opened the first Liquorice Tree store in 2007, selling gift items such as candles, jewellery and ceramics. 

Now 11 years on, there are three stores – one in Glasgow’s West End, one on Cockburn street in central Edinburgh and the original Edinburgh Airport site, which has been rebranded as Scottish Fine Gifts. ‘The merchandise we sell isn’t the traditional souvenirs; we sell lots of ceramics and art,’ Pat explains, adding that the made-in-Scotland ranges sell very well in the Edinburgh stores.

‘People love coming in, smelling a candle and having the personal experience of someone helping them to buy a gift and wrapping it up,’ Pat adds. ‘I think the high street is far from being a thing of the past.’

 

Promoter: American Express Services Europe Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

*Offer only available to UK issued American Express Cards with the exclusion of Lloyds Bank, Corporate and Pre-Paid Cards. Enrollment required, available in-store, participating merchants only, once per location. For a list of participating merchants and full Offer Terms and more details about statement credits visit amexshopsmall.co.uk