There is an assumption that local shops run by local people have a competitive advantage over local shops run by multiples, such as Tesco. However, while independent operators may have some strengths, these may not be competitive advantages.

On two recent shop visits I was struck by the stories that the retailers told about their shop’s histories. In one case it was about how a former owner had developed the shop to serve the new train station. In the other, it was about how a former member of staff was remembered by naming the bakery area after her. In both cases these stories were not written down and recorded.

I suggested to both owners that some customers would really appreciate knowing about the local history of their independent store. Think about it in the same way that you advertise a local product that you sell. People buy into the story.

Waitrose, gap, local shop, independent, story, nick, shanagher

What is interesting is to see how Waitrose in Islington, a newcomer in a former Woolworths store, has filled its windows with local information.

Each of these posters tells the story about the local area. What is the reason that Waitrose is doing this?

Or look at Gap, which is telling its story to build a relationship with shoppers.

We know what shoppers think because they voted supermarkets well ahead of local shops in terms of community involvement. A problem for many local shops is that they do not understand their strengths, Tom Fender of research consultancy him! says. Equally, a problem for some local shops is that they do understand their strengths but fail to tell their shoppers about them.

If you do not tell shoppers what your strengths are, it is likely they will forget what they are. Don’t miss out on simple PR wins. The multiples promote their strengths because it works to do so!