Bath small traders' big fightback
Independent business owners in the city have issued a rallying cry to help raise their profile.
A new movement has been launched to identify independent businesses, and encourage shoppers to support them.
It is led by Maureen Lechmere, from the Fudge Factory, and Martin Tracy, from the Framing Workshop, who hope to bring together other small businesses in a fight against large chains, which they claim are starting to dominate the city.
Mr Tracy said: "We are fed up with the rhetoric in this city of 'we look after little shops, 'independents are really important' - sometimes we don't feel like they do care."
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He added: "There's nothing to bind us and bring us together, and that's what we hope to achieve."
The pair have created a logo and strapline, "Proud to be an independent retailer in Bath", which they are encouraging other independent shops to display in their windows.
They also have plans to set up a website, shoppinginbath.com, with a list of all the city's independent traders.
Mrs Lechmere, who tried to launch a similar scheme last autumn, said things had got worse for retailers in the city since Christmas. This month alone two shops near to her business in Abbey Green have closed and she believes raising the profile of independents would boost trade.
Mrs Lechmere said: "We're not saying we're afraid of competition, but SouthGate is what you can find in Bristol and it's us, the independents, that make Bath different.
"Maybe it's inevitable that the big names dominate, but we're not letting it happen without a fight."
The campaign has received the backing of business leaders in the city.
Chief executive of Bath Tourism Plus, Nick Brooks-Sykes, said the organisation would be happy to support the initiative and encouraged the organisers to contact him so they could make use of existing BTP marketing platforms.
He said: "I am a great supporter and recognise that we must protect and nurture our independents if we are to continue to thrive as a successful visitor destination. That's why the Bath Improvement District and BTP are working together to encourage more shoppers and visitors to come to Bath."
Andrew Cooper, Bath BID manager, insisted the city was not a clone town, and that his office was working hard to support independent traders with initiatives such as the Bath App.
He said: "The BID fully supports the independent sector through our marketing, events and by providing practical support through our cleaning, savings and ranger team."
To download a copy of the logo visit http://bathindependentretailers.wordpress.com.