BUSINESSES are being encouraged to enter a national competition to showcase what independent stores have to offer.

The Best Small Shops Competition celebrates the economic contributions made by small retailers to the UK economy.

Organised by the All Party Parliamentary Small Shops Group and administered by the Independent Retailers Confederation, the aim is to bring small businesses to the attention of the wider community.

Carolyn Frank, owner of Libby Butler Jewellers, in Helmsley, who has entered the competition, said the aim was to promote the “shop local” message.

“Initiatives like this are less about competing to win and more about spreading the shop local message,” she said.

“In my application I talked about how we are embracing online technologies like our recent virtual shop tour and how we are working with other local businesses through the Helmsley in Business Group.

“In Helmsley alone we have more than 50 independent shops, and just like Small Business Saturday and FSB’s #ibacksmallbusiness campaigns, this is another campaign to remind people that small shops and other businesses are an essential part of the rural economy.”

Carolyn said she was grateful that Ryedale MP Anne McIntosh was supporting the initiative.

“Our MP is active in her constituency and in touch regularly with small businesses like ours,” she said.

“This is, however, not the case all over the UK, so I welcome the chance to show MPs in London that there are thriving small businesses up and down the country doing great things in their communities.”

“I would encourage more Ryedale businesses to apply as well via the website.”

Miss McIntosh said she was lending her support to Libby Butler Jewellers and also encouraged other small businesses to apply.

“Businesses like Libby Butler Jewellers in Helmsley typify why small businesses are the engines that power the rural economy,” she added.

“ Competitions like this can only help to make us all aware of the contribution they make to creating jobs and sustaining the local economy.”

Miss McIntosh said: “This is a great opportunity for small shops to get recognition for the brilliant work they do supporting the community and creating jobs all year round, celebrating the entrepreneurship of shops like Libby Butler.”

The Best Small Shop will be selected on a number of criteria, including innovation within the business, engagement with the community and entrepreneurial activities.

Small shops can submit their application by January 30, at setting out in no more than 500 words why they are the best small shops including; innovation in your business, community engagement and entrepreneurial activity.

All shortlisted candidates will be invited to a Parliamentary reception where the winner will be announced on February 25.

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