Caroline Flint declared her full support for Thorne's businesses this week, after she brought local business people together to discuss how they could work together to improve the town centre.
Said Caroline: "This meeting followed a survey we conducted among Thorne's town centre businesses, with the support of Cllr Rachel Hodson, Cllr Eddie Dobbs and volunteers from Thorne Needs You. The survey showed support for the idea and led to this meeting.
"I’m very grateful for the presentation by Nikki Davies from the Tickhill Business Association about how their local businesses approached getting things done to boost trade in their town."
The meeting attracted over 30 local businesses, local Cllr Rachel Hodson, Thorne Needs You and town council representatives.
Among the tips for improving local trade were:
• That you may start with only a few businesses, and not everyone will want to work together, but you can still get things done.
• That starting from your own front door, your shop window, your row of shops, you begin to change what you can do to boost business.
• In Tickhill, the businesses agreed on their objectives – to boost trade, by improving and promoting their shopping area, and the offer to customers.
• Start small: lots of ideas can grow about how to boost the town – from co-ordinated hanging baskets, to cleaning shop fronts, improving window displays, to a website, and a calendar of events.
• Getting to know who your customers are and what they think of the town. Are they local, working in Thorne or just visiting?
• Getting retailers to look at their store front – does it attract customers and enhance the street, or does it detract from the impression of Thorne.
• Looking for ways to encourage through traffic to stop for a short time – may involve simple steps like good signs to where free/cheap parking is available.
• Finding ways to get your town mentioned in Doncaster publications.
• Businesses getting to know each other boosts selling to each other.
• Involvement in the Neighbourhood Plan etc is important – but start with the things you can change close to home yourselves.
Said Caroline: "Nikki Davies gave examples of how small businesses working together had made a big impact, boosting trade by 20% in a recession. The results are very impressive."
The meeting ended with the businesses choosing a small steering group of six to take forward the idea of forming an Association for Thorne businesses.
Said Caroline: "My office is available to help the Thorne businesses get a bigger voice and advise in any practical way. The meeting was very positive - and a big thanks to Chris from Thorne library who gave up her time to enable the meeting to take place."