IAA23 Category Star for Service to the Community: Connolly Spar Pewsey, Tidworth

Susan Connolly of Connolly Spar Pewsey, Tidworth, discusses what Service to the Community means to her

How important is Innovation to your business and why?

It’s vital because it’s all about how people perceive you. We want to be in the hearts and minds of every single customer. To achieve that, in addition to good service, we do things like an advent calendar with daily prizes and hampers at Christmas, deliver food to hard-up families on Christmas Eve and we were the first dementia-friendly convenience store in the country.

What three things have you done in the last 12 months that set you apart in Innovation?

  1. We sponsored the Pewsey carnival and last year had our first float where our staff dressed up and gave out Spar cowboy hats. Since then we’ve seen an increase in sales across all categories too. We’re up 24% year on year.
  2. We started a food box collection in store. Initially, we invested £2,000 in stock, then we started customer boards so people could rip off a tag, say for a bag of potatoes, and pay for it for the box.
  3. We’ve been delivering to a couple of customers who ring up with their orders. There’s one disabled man who doesn’t have any family. The bigger shops don’t have the capacity to do that, but that’s a vital role we play.

What’s the biggest trend or challenge you’ve adapted to in the last 12 months?

It’s the cost-of-living crisis. There is still huge demand for our food box. Since December we’ve given out 2,000 meals to families, single people and people with mental health problems. Our customers are helping us to fund this and they get the feel-good factor when they do their shopping because they know they’re helping someone.

What’s the biggest and best change you’ve made in your business in the last 12 months and why?

When we did the carnival people told us they wanted to be a part of it and so now we’re working with the carnival to do a community float. There are lots of people who want to get involved but don’t necessarily have the money, so now we have that as a community project.

What have you done to retain shoppers in the last 12 months?

We introduce new products and services. Every three weeks we also redecorate the store, whether that’s for Wimbledon, the World Cup, or just with something like bunting if there’s nothing going on. It’s something that can be an exciting experience for customers.

Who would you recommend retailers to turn to if they’re looking to improve Service to the Community?

I’d recommend trade press, websites and social media to see what people are doing. Trudy Davies does a lot of community stuff and she’s always in the trade press, for example. And if you see someone doing something on a big scale you can always ask how you could do it in a smaller way.

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