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Friday, October 26, 2018

Queen of Shops helps traders prepare for Christmas

* Councillor Hugh Evans and Helen Hodgkinson
showcase Denbighshire's #LoveLiveLocal campaign.

Denbighshire has its own ‘Queen of Shops’ to get the county’s retailers match fit for the vital Christmas selling season.

Retail expert Helen Hodgkinson has been working with shop and business owners in Llangollen and elsewhere alongside the County Council’s Economic and Business Development Team on how to make the most of the festive season.

Helen, a former fashion retailer and college lecturer herself, has been holding one-on-one sessions with businesses and is keen to get out the message that the county’s shops have plenty to offer shoppers for Christmas.

It’s part of Denbighshire County Council’s #LoveLiveLocal campaign to encourage people to use their local shops and services and for businesses to promote themselves and for everyone to use social media platforms Twitter and Facebook to share their positive experiences of Denbighshire as a fantastic place to shop.

She said: “Businesses have to be ready for Christmas with their plans in place because this is the most important time of the year and you have to get the basics right to reap the rewards.

“There’s a great offer in Denbighshire, lots of unusual, quirky, specialist independent shops offering great products and service but they still need a plan and know how to sell themselves.

“People want to buy something that’s a bit different, not mass manufactured, and provenance is important, where it’s from and how it’s made and is there a story behind it because all that adds value.”

Helen, from Dyserth, began in retail for supermarket chain Fine Fare in Buxton in Derbyshire and then went on to work for health food giants Holland and Barratt in Buxton and Stockport before moving to North Wales where she opened an ethical clothing business in Llandudno.

She then taught at Rhyl College where she set up FE – for Further Education – Retail as a small business within the college where students could gain experience of selling.

She also taught a series of courses by the high priestess of retail, TV star Mary Portas, on successful retailing and launched a Retail Academy at the college which worked with Denbighshire County Council.

Now the Council has called on Helen’s skills again and Council Leader Hugh Evans OBE said: “We want to help promote our local traders this Christmas as part of our work to create resilient communities.

“The #LoveLiveLocal 2018 campaign is a celebration of the diverse and vibrant shopping experiences we have in our County and is aimed at encouraging consumers to use the hashtag #LoveLiveLocal to promote businesses in Denbighshire across all social networking platforms.

“We are helping to highlight the great retail offer right here in Denbighshire and encourage shoppers to see what is on their local high streets.

“Not only do our businesses offer great value for money and a wide range of products, they also provide excellent customer service and we want to play our part in showcasing the fantastic businesses we have throughout Denbighshire.”

As part of the #LoveLiveLocal campaign, Denbighshire County Council will be rolling out a series of short video clips to highlight what the county has to offer shoppers and the campaign will encourage people to support local independent businesses by using the hashtag on Twitter and Facebook to share good experiences they’ve had as well as promote products and services locally they have ‘loved’.

The videos will appear on social media throughout the Christmas period to help promote shopping locally.

Helen added: “Ten years ago retail was still retail but things have moved on so much since then and retailers have to move on as well.

“It’s vital to get involved with events happening locally and to look to mix up your offer so that on many high streets businesses add a café on their premises, provide samples, hold evening classes and get involved in social media.

“I’ve been around all eight towns in Denbighshire and things are happening on the high streets, they’re changing for the better with new businesses opening up and offering that something different that attracts shoppers.

“They’re thinking outside the box and inspiring their customers because there are a lot of very talented people out there and lots to celebrate on the Denbighshire retail scene.”

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