Weston Mercury: John Visits ‘Outdoor Active’, A Top 25 Independent Retailer

A Weston business owner is ‘proud’ after being named among Britain’s best small shops.

Outdoors & Active, in Meadow Street, has made the top 25 businesses in the Independent Retailers Consortium’s Best Small Shops competition.

The shop is owned by Paul Batts – who is also chairman of Weston Business Improvement District – and his wife Julie, who have received praise for both their efforts with Outdoors & Active and campaigns to promote trade in the town centre.

The pair will travel to the House of Commons in London today (Tuesday) to learn if they have won the coveted prize, and will rub shoulders with some of the country’s most influential business bosses and politicians.

Mr Batts is ‘really proud’ to have made it this far in the competition.

He said: “I saw the competition and thought I wouldn’t bother as there would be thousands of people entering, but I went for it.

“After a while I got an email saying we’d made it into the top 25 nationally and we’d been invited to the House of Commons.

“It’s fantastic news for the shop, but also for Weston.

“We’re the only outdoor business in the top 25 so we’re really proud, particularly given the doom and gloom surrounding retail these days. This award celebrates the small guys battling away all the time.”

Weston MP John Penrose paid a visit to the shop and told the Mercury ‘the town should be proud’ of Outdoors & Active.

He said: “Orchard Meadows has become a different and distinct neighbourhood within Weston town centre.

“It’s about offering something different to visitors and local residents.

“That’s mainly due to the efforts of people like Paul and Julie who run small independent stores and give the area its character.”

Mr Batts has long championed the merits of independent areas like Orchard Meadows, and called for more traders to think outwardly.

He added: “As we’re seeing the High Street going through a lot of change, with a lot of bigger retailers struggling, the jewel in the crown for many towns will the little independent areas.

“We’ve still got work to do in Orchard Meadows, but if you’re a small shop owner it is good to engage with your neighbours and the area, because as a collective force you can develop a brand and a community.”

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