If you’re looking for the place that was just crowned as the best small shop in England – then you’ll need to go to Hunters of Helmsley. Owned and run by husband-wife team Chris and Christine Garnett since 2008, they beat out close to 300 applicants from across the country.
The judges in The Independent Retailers Confederation Best Small Shops Competition 2015 voted for the market town deli due to its commitment to using local produce and supporting the British business supply network.
As Christine said, “We both come from Yorkshire farming families, and we are passionate about how and where food is produced. Every year we spend days scouring food fairs and events searching for the best new products available. We also stock artisan products from around the world.”
The Garnetts explain that at least 70% of their products are sourced from within Yorkshire. Christine said, ”There is a tremendous local business group which has really come together during the past three years. You can really see there is now a big difference between us and some other towns.
In around 2012 I could see the recession starting to hit in Helmsley and I knew certain businesses were struggling. We were actually doing alright, but if you start to get empty shops in the High Street it doesn’t become as attractive for visitors, and although the community is very supportive of our shops we do need visitors, too.
‘I discussed it initially with our next door neighbours – the shop beside us – and we decided to get our heads together and see if we could form some sort of support group – because there’s strength in numbers. Slowly but surely the business group formed and now there’s a group of 50 that all support one another to promote the town and put on events for visitors.”
Each store was rated in three areas: innovation, community engagement and entrepreneurial activity. The judges game high rewards to a few other business including NISA Local, Toddington, Bedfordshire, a convenience store, and The Main Street Trading Company, St Boswells, Roxburghshire, a bookshop and deli.