Payzone Kent Rural Retailer
Now in its second year, this year’s Kent Rural Retailer competition proved to be a resounding success.
Sharon Davies (Kent Rural Retail adviser) said the competition is a fantastic opportunity to raise the profile of Kent’s wonderful rural retailers and recognize the superb service and unwavering dedication these businesses bring to the lives of residents in Rural Kent.
The competition is not necessarily about being the biggest or smartest retailer but much more about being part of the community, supplying great local produce and delivering first class customer service.
This year the competition was funded by four commercial sponsors. Payzone who were the Platinum sponsor. Post Office Ltd were the Gold Sponsors and Verve Magazine and Hadlow College who were our bronze sponsors.
Sharon decided to expand the competition to encompass four separate categories as she felt this would allow a wider range of rural retailers to get involved. In addition to increasing the categories we also wanted to involve the shops customers, so on the 17th August the competition was opened to public votes for a period of five weeks. A staggering 6000 votes were received for the 30 entrants, which was great proof of just how much these shops mean to their local communities!
The public vote was used to determine the 19 finalists across the four categories. The next stage of the proceedings involved each and every shortlisted shop receiving 3 mystery shopper visits, a total of 57 visits!
The awards ceremony which was held on 4th November at the Broadview tearooms, Hadlow College, was a wonderful evening. The 75 attendees had the chance to meet some of Kent’s finest producers and taste their wares, then we enjoyed a fascinating presentation from last year’s winner Andrew Mills of ‘The Heath Stores’ Horsmonden about how he had increased turn over from £5k to £23k in four years and the attendees were treated to a wonderful two course dinner using some of Kent’s best produce!
Best Small Shop
Winner – Ide Hill Community Stores
Runner-up – Speldhurst Village Stores & PO
Best Large Shop
Winner – Hartley Dyke Farm Shop
Runner-up – Ken & Judith Linklater
Best Small Farm Shop
Winner – Chilham Shop
Runner-up – Groombridge Farm Shop
Most community Focused Shop or PO
Winner – Ide Hill Community Sore
Runner Up – Spedlhurst Village shop & PO
Two special awards
Most public votes per head of population – Stelling Minnis Stores
Community Endeavour award- Barham Community Stores
This competition does so much to raise awareness of our Rural retailers, so look out for next year’s competition launch at the beginning of July 2016.