Natalie Lightfoot, one of our seven expert retailer columnists, discusses the value of supporting her local food bank at Christmas
I always wanted to run a food bank drop-off point and it was a lot easier to set up than I thought.
I got in touch with the Trussell Trust to find my nearest one and then contacted Glasgow North East Food Bank and now I’m an official drop point on their website.
The idea of people not having enough over Christmas makes me really sad. You can get so wrapped up in our businesses and making money that it’s important to look at the good you can do in your area.
There were a few supermarkets near me doing it but I didn’t notice any convenience stores that were, and, as we spoke to customers more it seemed like it would be a good fit.
We now talk to a lot of customers who wouldn’t normally speak to us. Some people are a little bit guarded and won’t make conversation, but something like a food bank breaks the ice, then you’ll chat with them each time they come in.
I dedicate a really small footprint on the shop floor to a basket next to the till. Other retailers have told me I’m sacrificing good selling space, but I think it’s worth it. It creates more return visits, and gets people thinking about us and seeing what our values are.
We find our shoppers are coming back to bring in items from home or picking up extra items during their visit for the bank. We had a collection two weeks ago that weighed 71kg, but our record is close to 90kg. We’ll do loads of interaction on Facebook in the run up to Christmas to drive it.
There’s one elderly man who comes in on Sundays. Most of my customers on a Sunday will buy a paper and not much else, but every time he comes in he’ll spend about £30. He asks me to walk round with him to point out what the food bank really needs. It has a business benefit and an emotional benefit. I’m so glad we got involved.