Shop local to win big this Christmas

A jingle of tills up and down the high street would be music to the ears of Dereham retailers this Christmas.

But it is up to you to make this festive season full of cheer for your local shops.

That is the message to the people of Dereham as traders and business leaders join forces with the Times to launch a new Shop Local campaign over the next 10 weeks.

And by taking part in the campaign one lucky shopper will receive a fabulous Christmas present - �1000.

Simply by picking up a 'passport' from a participating shop and collecting stamps from 10 different stores in the town you can enter a draw for the big prize.

With all the variety of shops in Dereham you should be able to collect the stamps in no time and give your high street a much-needed boost.

Ian Philpott, chairman of Dereham & district's chamber of trade and commerce, backed the scheme and said that shopping locally this Christmas was 'extremely important' to the town.

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'We are battling against all the traditional small town problems,' he said. 'There are empty shops, an influx of multiples as opposed to local traders and the internet to compete with. We have also been going backwards and forwards for several years over altering Dereham market place for a new bus exchange.

'Last year the town did OK in the end but it could have been better and businesses need to see the advantage of working together and thinking as a group.

'We have tried other campaigns in the past but not all have been successful. But I think that this shop local scheme will help get people and businesses together and get people to go from one shop to the next.'

Bead This, Craft That owners Carol and Sara Lane said Dereham was full of little bijou shops like theirs with plenty on offer this Christmas.

'This scheme is a lovely idea to get people to shop locally more,' said Carol. 'We are not a big chain, we are a family run business and we do rely on Christmas trade. We do well on jewellery making and card making at this time of year but what else you get by using local shops is local knowledge. If we can't help we probably know someone who can.'

Dereham DIY owner Paul Green said it was 'about time someone did something to entice shoppers into town.'

He added: 'It is a great idea and it will hopefully encourage people to spend more time in Dereham at the most important time of year for traders.'

As many shops are already starting to get a Christmassy feel about them the whole town centre will get festive on Sunday, November 28 when it is lit up by Christmas lights.

The switch-on takes place at 4.30pm but a programme of entertainment starts at 1pm providing plenty of fun for all the family from fairground rides to stalls and refreshments.

Local singers will take to the stage to perform including the Dereham Operatic Society and Mid-Norfolk Singers while a Christmas craft fair will offer lots of ideas for presents in the Assembly Rooms.

See page 3 for more details on how to enter our Shop Local this Christmas campaign.