Local PR helps refill shop increase footfall and promote sustainability

By Gill Perkins
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Recently, we used PR to boost local business The Green Gram’s profile, attract more customers, and spread their message of sustainability. 

Background 

The Green Gram is a community owned, volunteer run refill shop in Fordingbridge, Hampshire. It is a community benefit society, run by the community for the community. 

The shop began as Gardener’s Zero Waste, a mobile refill shop set up by Jo Anderson in 2019. During 2019 and through the Covid pandemic, Jo built up a band of loyal customers who wanted to reduce their plastic use and contribute to a community-driven initiative. 

With the help of the Plunkett Foundation, which helps community retailers, Jo and a working party of local residents registered The Green Gram Community Refill Shop Limited as a community benefit society, and opened a bricks-and-mortar shop in Fordingbridge in May 2022. 

After 12 months in this location, it was clear the premises were too small, and the society started to look for an alternative site on Fordingbridge High Street. 

Raising £15,000 through a community share offer 

As part of our Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), we wanted to help. To be able to move to the new premises, The Green Gram team needed to raise £15,000 through a community share offer.  

As a community-run society, there were no funds for advertising or promotion, so we concentrated on raising the visibility of The Green Gram in Fordingbridge and beyond, to help generate the share-based income to allow the shop to move, and to increase business in the longer term. 

With a targeted PR campaign, we achieved significant coverage in the local press, generating a huge amount of interest in the town and beyond. To begin with, we concentrated on telling The Green Gram’s story, and focusing on the share offer. Then we covered the move to new premises, and the open evening. 

“Padua Communications has been a key part of the success of our share offer and shop move,” says Paul Harding, Chair at The Green Gram. “Through its work, we have achieved significant exposure without having to pay for any advertising, and our regular appearances in the local press has raised awareness of what we do. It allowed us to raise all the money we needed far faster than we expected, so we were able to refurbish and move into the new store in October 2023.” 

Business increases by 60% 

Moving into a larger shop has allowed The Green Gram to increase its product lines. It now carries 330 different product lines from chocolate to laundry detergent. Being more visible on Fordingbridge’s High Street, along with consistent local press coverage, has meant that the shop has seen a 60% increase in business since the move, with people coming into the town specifically to use the store, resulting in an uplift in the use of other businesses too. 

“We now have more than 40 active volunteers,” adds Paul Harding, “and we have a salaried shop manager, an outreach worker and a committee with a range of skills to help us ensure that we are always focusing on helping people reduce their plastic use. We estimate that we have saved the equivalent of 50,000 plastic bottles since the shop was founded.” 

Winning an award 

At the end of 2023, the society’s ambition and hard work was rewarded when it received The Horace Plunkett Award, part of the Rural Community Business Awards, which celebrates companies across the UK for their contribution to their local community. 

“We have been delighted to support The Green Gram,” says Padua Communications MD, Nicky Rudd. “We are an environmentally sensitive business, and believe both in supporting our local community and in the amazing work that the society does to help reduce plastic waste and encourage reuse.  

“Helping it raise the money to move, and seeing the increase in footfall and product lines is very exciting. The shop is really putting Fordingbridge on the map as a sustainably-driven community.” 

Find out how we can help you use PR to boost your business by getting in contact for a free consultation today. 

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