TAMWORTH town centre was buzzing with fairies, Christmas festivities, music and even a film crew during last weekend’s Small Business Saturday initiative.
The national annual campaign was set up in 2013 to put the spotlight on the small and independent businesses which are at the heart of high streets across the country and to encourage people to support them by shopping local.
This year the Tamworth campaign was again boosted by free parking in all Tamworth Borough Council-run town centre car parks and Ankerside Shopping Centre, as well as the launch of the new Fairy Trail initiative.
Christmas music, Santa Claus and walkabout characters from Monty’s Indoor Adventure added to the atmosphere, which was caught on camera by news crews from ITV who chose to film in Tamworth for Small Business Saturday following its success in the recent Great British High Street competition.
Tamworth was the only area in the West Midlands to make it through to the finals and finished runner up in the ‘town centre’ category.
Reporters spoke to independent businesses, including in Created in Tamworth and Fergus & Fogg’s Toy Emporium in Market Street; interviewed shoppers on the street and filmed Mayor of Tamworth, Cllr Maureen Gant, as she launched the Fairy Trail.
The Fairy Trail takes shoppers on a magical journey of discovery through the town centre where they will be asked to find tiny fairy doors hidden inside 16 independent businesses. Fairy Trail packs can be picked up from Created in Tamworth and people can follow the trail during the next few weeks. Each time they find a door they will be given a sticker to put on their map.
Participants who manage to find all the doors and stickers must hand their completed forms back in to Created in Tamworth by January 31.
Finished forms will be entered into a prize draw with the chance to win prizes donated by participating businesses. And as an added incentive, each fairy bag contains five tokens which can be exchanged for treats in five of the shops along the way.
The Fairy Trail initiative has been spearheaded by Created in Tamworth tenants Teresa Radcliffe of Vintage Makes and Bakes and Marie Brown of Shabby to Bridal Chic, together with Pixie Andrews of Pixie’s Grotto in Church Street.
After identifying and signing up independent businesses which wanted to take part, the trio took the plans to the Destination Tamworth Town Team which worked with the INTO Tamworth project – funded by the Department of Transport and run by Tamworth Borough Council and Staffordshire County Council – to fund and develop the initiative.
Teresa, who moved her baking business into Created in Tamworth this summer, said: “We are fed up of hearing that Tamworth only has certain types of shop and wanted to show people the wide variety of interesting and unique independent businesses that the town centre has to offer. We have already had other businesses approach us to take part in future trails and we are planning to run similar events next year.”
Pixie Andrews opened Pixie’s Grotto in Church Street around 18 months ago, selling gifts from around the world, home fragrance and collectibles, and hopes the Fairy Trail will help increase footfall in some of the quieter areas of the town.
“Market Street and George Street are often very busy, especially on market days, but I’m hoping the Fairy Trail will encourage people to explore some of the surrounding streets and give the town’s independent businesses a bit more of a profile and show people what we are all about.”
Tamworth Borough Council Deputy Leader, Cllr Rob Pritchard, added: “Our small businesses are vital to the future success of town centres and they need the support of their communities.
“There’s a great buzz about the town centre following the Great British High Street competition and lots of initiatives are taking place over Christmas and into next year to build on this.
“It would be great if Tamworth residents could get on board and do their bit to help these businesses grow.
“The Fairy Trail is a great way to discover some hidden gems in the town, not to mention the chance to win some great prizes.”
Parking charges will be waived again on December 19 in another bid to boost town centre trade in the run up to Christmas and additional markets will be held on Friday December 18, Monday December 21, Wednesday December 23 and until 2pm on Christmas Eve.