Owners ‘Imagin’ scooping award

Woman paying for groceries at supermarket checkout
Woman paying for groceries at supermarket checkout

Small traders celebrated

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Four months after its opening, a bespoke gift shop is setting its sites on victory at The News Retail and Leisure Awards.

Co-directors Barry Turner and Sarah Bland opened Imagin in March at Whiteley Village’s shopping centre. Now they are hoping that the store’s vibrant appearance and interesting stock can take them all the way to the top at this year’s event.

Joint-owner Barry said: ‘We’ve only been open a few months so when we saw the awards it was a case that we thought we were different and could stand out.

‘Whiteley is a very new shopping centre and we bring something unique to the venue, in that we are a bit shabby chic.’

He added: ‘Our shop has a positive vibe and to support Whiteley and bring some recognition to the area would be great.’

Imagin specialises in gift ideas for a range of themes including weddings, children, pets and seasonal and the team have already set up an online shop.

A catalogue has been produced and distributed around local retirement homes.

Barry believes commitment like this is vital in retail.

He said: ‘All of our displays are made from recycled materials and furniture.

‘We often go round charity shops and paint the items to give them a distressed look. The customers seem to like it.

‘When people come into the shop and see what we’ve done with the exterior, they appreciate that as well as stocking and selling items, we’ve gone the extra mile and have given that attention to detail that others may not have.’

The New Retailer of the Year award is just one category out of 12 in The News Retail and Leisure Awards, which celebrate the hard work put in by shops.

Barry praised the event for promoting local businesses.

‘I think for people to get recognition for what they have achieved is a good thing.

‘Something like this really does bring the shopping community together.’