Shop Local: Lib Dem leader Ed Davey backs Herts Ad campaign for independent retailers

Lib Dem leader Ed Davey talks to Herts Ad group editor Matt Adams.

Lib Dem leader Ed Davey talks to Herts Ad group editor Matt Adams. - Credit: Archant

The leader of the Liberal Democrats has given his full support to the Herts Ad’s #ShopLocal campaign.

Ed Davey was visiting the city alongside St Albans MP Daisy Cooper, and dropped in to meet the team at independent retailer Books on the Hill.

He picked up a copy of this newspaper, and said: “I think for the Herts Advertiser to run a Shop Local campaign is fantastic, and I’m sure your readers will respond.

“I’ve been here in St Albans going round the city with MP Daisy Cooper and council leader Chris White, and hearing about the work the council has been doing with local businesses and local people to try to make it easier for them to come into the city centre and still shop, and working with local businesses to make it easier for them to be Covid-compliant and safe, and also helping restaurants and other shops to have a market presence outside.

“So to have a campaign from the Herts Advertiser to back that is fantastic, it’s great news.”

“I think the government has really been behind the curve throughout this, whether it’s dealing with the health pandemic or the economic crisis, they’ve always acted too slowly. Whether it’s independent retailers or it’s the pubs, the cafés and restaurants which make our towns and high streets so vibrant, they’ve not really been there quick enough or generous enough as they need to be.

“I’m hearing from people here in St Albans that this is a make or break Christmas, and if they don’t get the footfall and government support we could see redundancies and business closures, leading to ghost towns in our cities and towns as shops, cafés and a whole series of other local businesses close. That would be a disaster.”

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Antonia Mason, manager of the bookshop, said they are facing the same challenges as other high street retailers in ensuring their customers feel safe when browsing in store.

“We have put numerous procedures in place, from sanitiser stations to limiting customers in store, all of which we feel make for a more pleasant and safer shopping environment.”

She said it was vital they had a strong Christmas this year: “Last year was our first Christmas and we were blessed to have such incredible support from the community. This year we are offering more than ever with a website full of our collections, book subscriptions, gift bundles, book blogs and soon to come gift boxes full of books, candles, bookmarks and much more.

“We have a fun interactive website where you can not only buy a book but you can read our blog posts, see our latest events, sign up to our newsletter, purchase a gift bundle [collections of books under particular themes].

“The country as a whole has been hit by this pandemic and no one could have prepared for it. However, for us in St Albans we are blessed with an incredible community and we have tried to give back through a wide range of free events. But every sale helps.”

Like other businesses who have backed the #ShopLocal campaign, she is calling on the support of local residents: “Because we invest our time in our customers, through incredible research (we can help to track down books you require new and old), and we provide warm and friendly services (whether you are shopping or just browsing) and we support other local businesses through collaborating on social media or on products (we stock Stella Luminosa candles which are made locally). Without our Independents in St Albans the city would lose its charm, we have incredible coffee shops, gift shops and much more.”