Three gift retailers – Cositas, Soden Style and We Built This City (a past Greats Gift Retailer Award winner in 2016) – have been recognised in a joint campaign, organised by the British Independent Retail Association (Bira) and Vend, a cloud-based point of sale and retail management software company. In total, 14 businesses were selected.
“The UK’s high streets are a vital part of the local communities they service, and it’s independent retailers who ensure that they remain places full of personality,” comments Bira’s ceo Andrew Goodacre.“The 14 Remarkable Retailers we’ve selected, in partnership with Vend, innovate to stay ahead of economic and cultural trends, whether that’s in the customer experiences they offer, the goods they sell or the way they use technology. All of the retailers are inspiring examples to the wider sector and demonstrate the amazing things that small retail businesses are capable of.”
Giftware store and craft workshop Cositas, based in Berkhamsted, was opened by Emma Bustamante in 2017, and stood out to the judges for its dedication to the customer experience – an example of retail-tainment. “Be flexible and reactive,” commented Emma. “That’s what sets small independent retailers out from the crowd – our ability to turn on a penny and react to the market and to our customers’ needs.”
What impressed the judges about concept store Soden Style, situated in Berkhamsted, was its ‘pop up’ approach, offering products that respond to the current ‘look of the moment’ and closing between trend cycles. “I believe customers are looking for more meaningful retail experiences that have a place in the heart,” owner and curator Emma Holbrook explained. “As a retailer, I want to nurture that ethos with style that evolves with the season, so we can keep curating new stories to share over and over.”
Also earning praise from the judges was London’s We Built This City, based in Carnaby Street, which was applauded for its ‘artist takeover’ initiative – in which the store lends its windows to local artists – as well as for hosting workshops that enable customers to design their own products. The store also uses technology to boost productivity, giving staff more time to focus on making the shopping experience memorable and fun for customers. “We Built This City offers visitors from across the globe – along with London locals – the chance to take home a unique and lasting piece of the city, while supporting London’s creative community at the same time,” commented founder Alice Mayor.
Other Remarkable Retailers include the Isle of Sky Candle Company, founded by James Robertson, which has five stores in Scotland, and Papersmiths, co-founded by Sidonie Warren, which has retail outlets in London, Brighton and Bristol, and a concession in the Coal Drops Yard development in London’s Kings Cross.
All 14 Remarkable Retailers were handpicked from a list of over 1,000 independent retailers. Bira and Vend selected the winners for their stand-out approach to retail, to include a unique approach to the customer experience, their products and the way that they use technology.
Top: Carnaby Street gift shop We Built This City has been selected as a Remarkable Retailer by Bira and Vend.