Two Northumberland MPs are calling on small shops to prove they are the best in the business.
Wansbeck MP Ian Lavery and Blyth Valley’s Ronnie Campbell are urging traders to enter an all-party parliamentary competition to find the top small shop in the country.
Anyone can enter by submitting 500 words on why they should be considered for the award, which will be judged on innovation, business flair, community engagement and entrepreneurship.
Mr Campbell said: “This is a great opportunity for small shops in to get recognition for the brilliant work they do supporting the community and creating jobs all year round.”
Mr Lavery added: “Small independent shops are the backbones of high streets all over the country. They give our town centres the character and individuality that sets them apart from the out-of-town retail complexes and superstores.
“In Wansbeck there are so many little gems – independent, sole trader businesses that bring something completely different to the retail offer whether that be the butcher, the baker or the proverbial candlestick maker.
“Between them they do offer a real alternative to the brand leaders as well as giving the sort of personal customer service the big stores simply cannot match.
“All the main towns in Wansbeck have them in Morpeth, Ashington, Bedlington and Newbiggin as well as more local shopping facilities in Stakeford and Guide Post, and I could think of a dozen-and-one worthy of the title of the best small shop in the country.
“It can be a struggle for some small businesses in competition with the discountes and on-ine shopping, but the ones that show real flair and initiative also demonstrate they can survive and prosper.
Short-listed applicants will be invited to a Parliamentary reception on Wednesday, February 25, when the winner will be announced.
Details on how to enter can be found on the www.bestsmallshops.uk website.