Last week, I helped lead our fourth Come Shop With Me study tour, and as ever, the independent shops we visited were impressive.

At one a local butcher had been invited to set up an in-store concession when costs made running his own store unsustainable, and the owners had taken on a post office when every other business nearby refused to.

Another had a supermarket-sized array of fridges and freezers packed with grocery essentials.

These retailers will create vital new revenue in the face of this month’s carriage charge rises, new pensions responsibilities and the incoming National Living Wage

And completing the trio was a one-year-old store with locally-sourced cakes and a food to go counter, surrounded by an immaculate convenience range.

The fun part of the day is the teams’ Come Dine With Me-style scoring on criteria including availability, layout and innovation.

But for me, the best part of these tours is retailers’ enthusiasm as they quiz the owners about their ideas, contacts and stores and discover simple things to try out in their own businesses.

Vip Measuria – one of the judges and this week’s retailer profile – says it will be wicker baskets to display his newly-expanded fresh range. For newsagent Kate Clark, it will be locally-sourced cakes and food to go. And for c-store owner Nicola Ransome, it will be serving freshly-cooked chickens.

It goes without saying that introducing new ideas into your business is essential. But by doing so, these retailers will create vital new revenue in the face of this month’s carriage charge rises, new pensions responsibilities and the incoming National Living Wage.

We’ll be revealing the winner of Come Shop With Me at the Local Shop Summit at Lord’s Cricket Ground on 14 October, and plenty more ideas from the tour too. I hope to see you there.

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