SMALL firms in St Ives have an added incentive to butter up their customers after a competition was launched to find the area's best business.
St Ives Small Business of the Year Award was launched at the opening of the town's newest small business – boutique Ocean One in Tregenna Place – on what was named Small Business Saturday. This was an American idea imported to encourage people to use local traders.
It was used to launch the competition by St Ives Mayor, Colin Nicholls, chairman of the chamber of trade, Andrew Mounsey, and the town's Conservative parliamentary candidate, Derek Thomas, who came up with the idea.
Mr Thomas said: "I want to see our town centres thrive, I want to see good jobs created where people live and I want to encourage aspiration. Our small businesses are the key to achieving these priorities which is why I want to encourage them with our small business award."
Councillor Nicholls, who runs the hardware store Colenso's in St Ives, said: "I think the award is a great idea. Our shops, cafés and other small businesses need all the help they can get and this award helps to highlight their importance to the community. It is often forgotten that a large part of the money spent in our small shops is recycled within the local area, unlike the money spent in the large multiple shops."
Voting on the award is open until February 28 and the winner will be the small business that receives the most votes from customers. Voting forms are available at all the businesses that have entered.
The idea is getting the backing of St Ives' resurgent chamber of trade, which has been heavily involved in promoting new initiatives across the town in the past 12 months.
Mr Mounsey said: "This is an exciting initiative. I have been very impressed with the enthusiasm it has received from businesses we have visited today. St Ives Chamber of Trade and Commerce is an enthusiastic partner in this scheme and any local businesses wanting information or materials can contact me at my business, Trim, on Tregenna Place."
Mr Thomas said: "The St Ives Chamber of Trade and Commerce is working incredibly hard for St Ives. I want to support the members to achieve a workable traffic management solution and nurture an all-year-round retail economy. Furthermore, small businesses are telling me that business rates and parking charges are frustrating their efforts to build and maintain a healthy economy in west Cornwall. These are things I want to work to resolve."
Customers can vote for as many businesses as they like but can only vote for each business once. The aim of the award is to encourage people to shop locally and support small businesses in their communities. You can also vote online at www.derekthomas.org/smallbusiness