Meet the couple who run one of the best small shops in the country – and it’s in Bishop’s Waltham

Best Wishes of Bishop's Waltham, run by husband and wife Russell and Yvonne Payne, is through to the final of the Best Small Shops competition'Picture by:  Malcolm Wells (181024-6934)
Best Wishes of Bishop's Waltham, run by husband and wife Russell and Yvonne Payne, is through to the final of the Best Small Shops competition'Picture by: Malcolm Wells (181024-6934)
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 A SPECIALIST card store in a small market town has been named as one of the best small shops in the country.  

Best Wishes of Bishop’s Waltham, in Brook Street, has made it to the shortlist of retailers in the running to be named Britain’s Best Small Shop 2018.

Best Wishes of Bishop's Waltham - Sue Langham (staff member) George Hollingbery MP and Russell Payne & Yvonne Payne (owners).'

Best Wishes of Bishop's Waltham - Sue Langham (staff member) George Hollingbery MP and Russell Payne & Yvonne Payne (owners).'

The specialist card shop, run by Russell and Yvonne Payne, is one of just 25 shops to have made it to the final of the competition, run by The Independent Retailers Confederation, out of a huge nationwide entry list. 

They will go to a parliamentary reception, supported by the All Party Parliamentary Small Shops Group, on November 13, where they will have the opportunity to meet with MPs, trade representatives and other shortlisted independent retailers before the winner is announced.

Russell said: ‘We are obviously delighted to have made the shortlist of retailers. We very much look forward to our visit to The Houses of Parliament where we will hopefully fly the flag for Bishop’s Waltham.’ 

Best Wishes of Bishop’s Waltham has been trading for seven years and it stocks a large variety of greeting cards, gifts, balloons and party items.

It is Russell and Yvonne’s first business venture together – Yvonne had worked in the card industry for 15 years and Russell had a long career in sales, so the husband and wife team decided to combine their knowledge and realise their own dreams by opening their own shop. 

They set up Best Wishes in 2011 and together with their dedicated member of staff Sue Langham, the business is now a thriving part of the community, sponsoring the local football team, offering a card delivery service to nearby residents and participating in many of the town’s community events.

Russell said: ‘It has done extremely well. Once people know we are there, we like to think that they keep on coming back to us.’ 

Russell also said he was proud to welcome Meon Valley MP George Hollingbery, who stopped by the shop last week to pass on his congratulations. 

The Best Small Shops competition is managed by the Independent Retailers Confederation, who represent around 100,000 independent retailers. They celebrate the commitment and creativity of independent retailers on the UK’s high streets and the central role they play in their communities.