CHEADLE businesses have had an insight into an award-winning shopping initiative which has taken Leek by storm, with a view to launching it in Cheadle to give the town's High Street a resurgence.
Marc Briand, a volunteer with the Totally Locally scheme, which launched in Leek on September 2011, attended a meeting of Cheadle Business Group on Thursday, August 1, to talk to members about how the scheme started and has subsequently flourished in Leek.
Mr Briand, who is also a former Painsley Catholic College student, said: "Leek was the first town in England, outside of Calderdale, Halifax, to go Totally Locally and it has been a great success in the last two years leading to the launch of the Action for Market towns award winning Sunday Supplement (a food and artisan makers market with shops, cafes and pubs open on the first Sunday of each month) and the first Totally Locally Pop Up shop.
"Totally Locally is about reminding people of what they have in their town, and that if they want to continue to have these great things that they only need to make small changes to make a large difference.
"Totally Locally is a showcase for the town's independent businesses and shops; it gives people a reason to shop in town and reminds them of all the great things that they have and may have forgotten.
"It changes public perception and shopping habits so that people look to spend money in your local shops instead of just at supermarkets, online and chain stores.
"Totally Locally is available as a marketing kit for towns to follow and it's as simple as that just take things a step at a time and don't get distracted trying to think up new ideas that can come after the first year."
Mr Briand said that the main message is based around spending £5 a week with independent businesses instead of online or at the big supermarkets. For Leek this has a value of £4.1m per year if every adult chose to do this, for Cheadle it could be around £3m.
He added: "Many people say they would like to use their town's independent shops and businesses but can't afford to or don't have time.
"In Leek we had people coming into shops saying they had come to spend their fiver; this was followed up through the year with other parts of the kit: Totally Locally Times, a free newsletter; a Fiver Fest, Magic Tenner, Christmas maps of the shops, Easter Egg Hunts and the like.
"A result of this is that there are now far more people in Leek supporting their local businesses and are proud to say they are from Leek and what a great town it is, something that wasn't as obvious a few years ago.
"Totally Locally is not just about individual shops or businesses though.
It is about working together to lift your whole town. It’s a long-term campaign that can be run on a shoestring, but one that has successfully changed both the bottom lines of shops and businesses and the way people choose to shop."
Ivan Wozniak, secretary of the group said: "We are interested in talking more with Marc about the initiative with the view of starting it in Cheadle.
"This is a brilliant idea and kind of what we're trying to do, but not in such a focused way.
"It's interesting because Staffordshire Moorlands District Council did a Shop Local scheme, which worked initially but lacked branding and understanding of what it meant; it lost its appeal because people saw it as a reward scheme, not as a pride scheme."
Chairman Greta Williamson added: "The amount of people walking around with bags and badges saying 'I Love Leek' is phenomenal; 10 years ago that would never have happened."