An independent bookshop, The Mainstreet Trading Company’s Bookshop & Café, has been named Britain’s Best Small Shop of 2018.
The St Boswells-based bookshop, which this year celebrates its 10th year in business, was crowned the winner of the non-industry specific award after 25 retailers from a range of sectors were shortlisted last month. The prize's two joint runners-up are Hopes of Longtown, an independent village store in Longtown near Hereford, and Longwell Records, an old fashioned record shop in Keynsham in Bristol.
Also recognised on the competition's shortlist were three other indie bookshops: Drake The Bookshop in Stockton, which was highly commended, Forum Books in Northumberland, and Kenilworth Books in Warwickshire.
Judged as being among "some of the gems of our high streets and town centres", on the strength of their "innovation, entrepreneurial spirit and community ethos", all were able to attend a celebratory event organised by the Independent Retailers Confederation (IRC) at the Houses of Parliament on Tuesday afternoon (13th November). Ruth George MP, chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Small Shops, told those attending that she was delighted to "celebrate the creativity you bring to your businesses and the contribution you make to your communities. Strong independent retailers bring people into town centres".
Reacting with "total surprise", Rosamund de la Hey, owner of The Mainstreet Trading Company, said: "It’s amazing and unexpected to win the Best Small Shops competition having been shortlisted alongside an incredible array of fantastic independents from so many different sectors.
"I’m particularly pleased to be recognised with three fellow booksellers, we’re mutually supportive of each other - and it’s great that overall, a bookshop is the winner. We’ve been celebrating our 10th birthday this year so winning the Best Small Shops competition truly is the cherry on the cake for us. We wouldn’t have been able to win this award without our team and it’s an equally important achievement for them."
Innovations introduced by The Mainstreet Trading Company have included its "A Year of Books" subscription service, its Book Burrows - two "dens" where the shop plays children’s audio books - and the Love Your Indie book loyalty card. The initiatives build on the addition of its Deli & Home section back in 2012 which has helped to expand its customer base.
Mark Walmsley, chairman of the Independent Retailers Confederation, said: "In this year’s Best Small Shops competition, we have been able to celebrate the diversity, choice and quality of specialist independent retailers around the country and the contribution that they make to their local communities. We hope that in the run-up to Christmas it helps shine a light on some of the gems of our high streets and town centres and encourage more people to explore the independents in their areas."
The Best Small Shops competition is managed by the Independent Retailers Confederation (IRC) and sponsored by the brand loyalty app, booost.