If you’re looking for inspiration on how to do community retailing well, Woosnam & Davies News in Powys, Wales, is a good place to start
Located in the small town of Llanidloes, Trudy Davies’ newsagents caters for 2,500 residents and gives to more than 60 local charities. “My nickname here is Trudy ‘Give-us-a-Quid’ because I’m always asking people for money for good causes. It’s affectionate,” she says.
Last year, her successes included raising money for a defibrillator and training sessions for 150 residents, promoting a town-wide remembrance campaign to mark 100 years since the end of World War I, collecting 500 pairs of glasses for poor countries and hosting dementia awareness sessions.
“I wouldn’t survive without my customers, so giving something back is important,” she explains.
Her work has nevertheless received industry recognition, ranking as a finalist in the Service to the Community category in the Independent Achievers Academy (IAA) last year and scooping the Community Retailer of the Year gong at the NFRN Awards earlier this month.
“You have to be imaginative. It’s great having bingo or a raffle, but people get fed up if that’s all you do. It’s a challenge coming up with new ideas,” she admits.
Trudy finds a lot of her ideas from reading trade press and the internet, as well as borrowing ideas from other retailers and tweaking them to make them relevant to her local community.
“Networking through the IAA has always been a great way to meet other people,” she explains.
“If you see something, don’t wait for someone else to act on it. Bring in as many people as possible, get your MP and local council involved. People will support you.”
This thinking has enabled her to tap into community concerns that are relevant to the moment. “Period poverty really effects young girls, so we are collecting sanitary items so they can access it for free. Food banks don’t always deal with hygiene, so it’s a real problem,” she says.
Another push for Trudy is sustainability and the environment. She began a local campaign to reduce single-use plastics, and introduced glass bottles for milk and canvas bags that her shoppers donate.
“I want solar panelling on my roof. In the long term it will cut my energy bills by 20%. However, I live in a conservation area and the council is not keen, but I’m determined to push more,” she says. In the meantime, she has replaced her lightbulbs with LED lights. “I think my weakness is technology,” she admits.
“I have a Spar next door to me that has screens and high-tech tills, but my customers have told me they don’t want me to change my old-fashioned till. I do think I need to make some improvements, though.”
By working with relevant causes, Trudy is keeping her “old-fashioned” newsagents relevant in the community without losing its authentic charm. “We’re always adding to our charity calendar. Running a shop isn’t all about money, there’s a real feel-good factor of being involved,” she says.