Hastings homeware shop in the running to be named Britain’s Best Small Shop of 2020

Old town homeware shop A G Hendy & Co, that offers practical plastic free, eco-friendly goods for the home, has been named on the shortlist of retailers in the running to be named Britain’s Best Small Shop of 2020.

Owner Alastair Hendy says the shop: “Celebrates domesticity, taking the customer on a sensory journey in-store,” which it has also aimed to reflect in its highly visual website… http://www.aghendy.com/

The homepage of the A.G. Hendy website.

The shop prides itself on old-fashioned customer service, online has grown immensely for it since lockdown began and it is developing its web retail further and enhancing the customer experience, for example in its vintage section, where, says Alastair: “…customers appreciate historical information on provenance and origin around the products on offer.”

The Best Small Shops competition is managed by the Independent Retailers Confederation (IRC), whose member trade associations represent approximately 100,000 independent retailers throughout the UK. The competition celebrates the commitment and creativity of independent retailers on the UK’s High Streets and the central role they play in their local communities. It is sponsored by Maybe*, an engagement platform that helps make social media work for independent retailers. The winner will be announced next month.

In addition to the main award, A G Hendy & Co has also been shortlisted for a special award to be given to the independent retailer that has demonstrated specific innovation to combat the impact of COVID-19. This award is sponsored by booost, the loyalty, gifting and promotions app.

…a challenging year for small, independent retailers…

During Lockdown the shop developed its website adding large, awkwardly shaped and useful cleaning items such as brooms; it has engaged with humour and verse through posts on Instagram and Facebook, while promoting practical items for cleaning the home.

“We re-opened maintaining a plastic-free environment, re-using an old Victorian sash window as our customer screen, and an antique pharmacy Poison bottle to hold customer hand sanitiser. We shut down our kitchen and have used the area to create a one-way system through the store. Combatting Covid with wit and style, which our customers – old and new – have praised,” says Alastair.

Where else in Hastings can you buy a vaulting horse trimmed in suede?

“This has been a particularly challenging year for small, independent retailers and many have come through to this point through innovation, quality of product and service, a commitment to serve their local communities and a large dose of determination,” explains Mark Walmsley, Chair of the IRC.

“As more and more people have been forced to stay home and work from home, we have seen just how much we all value local independent shops and want to see them not just survive, but also thrive. These shops offer choice, diversity and genuine customer service. And, after what has been a rather dark year, that has to be worth celebrating.”

The annual competition highlights the best of Britain’s independent retail sector, celebrating the commitment and creativity of independent retailers and the central role they play in their local communities. Previous winners have included Bristol-based delicatessen Papadeli, the 2019 winner, and The Mainstreet Trading Company, a combined bookshop, café, deli & homeware shop based in St Boswells, in the rural Scottish Borders, which won in 2018.

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