INDEPENDENT businesses were invited into Waitrose in Daventry for a special shopping night.
The store held a Christmas Customer Evening on Tuesday, but was the only Waitrose in the country to involve local firms and bring them into the shop.
Branch manager Tim Perkins said: “We handed out invitations to our regular customers over the past couple of weeks and of course anyone else could come in as well.
“We have a really loyal customer base in Daventry with some people coming in every week, or even every day, and this is just a way to say thank you to them for their loyalty over the past year.”
On the night Waitrose staff were handing out samples of their seasonal foods, plus glasses of wine or fruit juice.
Singers from Daventry’s Holy Cross sang carols at the door, and at the other end of the store were Daventry Brass playing classic festive tunes.
But filling the rest of the store were tables and displays from local independent traders.
Among them were TailorMade, Hideout Cafe, Harpers, Evergreen Art Cafe, Sarah’s Crafts at Home from the Pigeonhole, Orchard Print, Orange Blossom Florists, and Second of May at Serendipity.
Long Clawston Dairy was there giving out samples of cheese, as were Gallones ice cream makers from Northampton, and Hook Norton brewery had sent along samples too.
Customer Peter Wright from Barby said: “It’s a fantastic evening!
“It’s really started off my Christmas season.”
Joanne Pawlett from TailorMade was at the event. She said: “We had a really good night.
“It was so nice to get out there and meet local people, because that’s what our business is all about.”
The event gave those businesses involved the chance to show Waitrose customers what they do and what they can offer.
Mr Perkins said: “I’ve only been branch manager here since the summer and I’ve wanted to do more with the community – it’s something we’ve let slip a bit I think.
“It’s really good for us to have good links with the local community including businesses. It’s good that Waitrose can work with the community in this way, whereas some of our competitors might not be able to.
“We want to reach out to the community, but we’re the only store I know of in the country that has involved local businesses and retailers in this way. We’re bringing the community into the store.
“There are some great independent shops in Daventry and it’s good that we can support them in this kind of way.
“We rely on Daventry being a thriving place to draw people into the town who we can then we can hopefully tempt through the doors, so it makes sense to support other businesses and retailers that have that same goal.”