© Field Fayre - The Organic Store 2013

Doing it the Mary Portas way

As I am writing this, the sun is shining and everyone is in a happy mood.  Let’s hope we have a long, hot summer, so we can all enjoy a bit of outdoor time together.  The boost a bit of sunshine gives us all is a bit like the feeling I’ve noticed in Ross over the past few months.  There’s a growing sense of community – the result is not only are more independent shops opening, but more people coming into the town centre and re-discovering what Ross has to offer.

Increasingly we are noticing that locals are doing their main shopping at the great variety of shops we have in town and doing a ‘top-up’ at the supermarket out of town, rather than the other way round.  Mary Portas would be proud of us!  There’s a lot more we can do, but with community events like the May Fayre (organized by my husband and I) to put the town on the map, more and more people are discovering what a great town we and they live in.

We saw Mary speak at the Hay-on-Wye book festival, where her key message was about enhancing community spirit to put the heart back in to our market towns – giving people a sense of belonging and loyalty to their town, so encouraging more people to support the shops that keep their town centres alive and vibrant.

In smaller shops like our own you often find people stopping for a chat, they might be strangers, they might be friends, but these informal contacts really do make a difference to people’s lives.

And shops like our own support small, local producers, helping them to find an audience for the great food and drink they produce – eg local honey producers, who might only have 6 jars a month to sell to us, to Rob who has a small certified organic apple orchard just outside Monmouth and grows 10 different traditional apple varieties – which means in the Autumn we can celebrate all that is good about harvest time with a fantastic range of delicious apples that you won’t find in the supermarket.

Let’s hope the community spirit in Ross keeps on growing, so more and more people can discover what a great town it is.

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