Finale are award winners! Fashion Independent Footwear Retailer of the Year 2019
We recently won an award which was a huge surprise but also fantastic news for us all at Finale and our customers too. This is the article written by Ian Wylie with all the details that appeared in our local magazine;
Top National Award For Northumberland Village Shop
Cluster of Corbridge independent businesses thriving despite national High Street trend.
A village shop in Northumberland at the heart and ‘sole’ of the local community has won a top national award.
Finale Shoes and Accessories of Corbridge was named Fashion Independent Footwear Retailer of the Year at the 2019 Footwear Industry Awards in Birmingham.
Run by mother and daughter team Lynn and Faye Clark, the small shop in Middle Street triumphed against much bigger award rivals from across the UK.
“It’s pretty amazing for a small village shop like ours to win a national award. When you consider the size of our shop and some of the other stores we were up against, ” said Faye.
Customers travel to visit ladies’ shoes and accessories retailer Finale from across Britain and the rest of the world.
Added Faye: “One of the first emails we had congratulating us on the award was from a customer in New Zealand. A lot of people who holiday in this part of Northumberland come back year after year and are regular customers.”
Her mother Lynn said: “I bought the business 14 years ago and my daughter Faye joined six years ago and helped move us further into the 21st century with all of the social media side of things, the website and so on.”
Customers are attracted by over 200 styles sourced from 20 different suppliers around the world, including Italy, Austria, Germany and Spain.
“We go to Milan in Italy twice a year to source products that aren’t sold in the larger stores. We visit smaller companies, often independent manufacturers,” explained Lynn.
“We also still buy from a lot of British based companies who we also get really good support from. I’ve had a lot of my suppliers since the time I started.”
The awards, held at the National Conference Centre, are voted for within the industry.
“To be acknowledged like this by the industry after 14 years is wonderful. So many people came up to us to say, ‘What a well-deserved award,’” said Lynn, who also has a team of four part-time staff.
Both mum and daughter say the number of acclaimed independent businesses in Corbridge, including Forum Books and the Corbridge Cookshop, is also crucial in the face of doom and gloom elsewhere about the future of our high streets.
“Corbridge is a vibrant community. At the moment there is so much angst about the high street. This is an award for independent shops. And our message is that many independent shops and businesses are surviving and thriving,” said Lynn.
Added Faye: “You cannot survive as an independent on your own. So the fact that we have a cluster of fantastic independent shops working together in Corbridge is amazing. The extra work we all put in to work together as traders to make Corbridge a destination is really important.
“You have to have something that makes people want to spend a few hours or even a day here. Bringing other members of the family or friends. There is a perfect mix of independent businesses in Corbridge. There is something for everybody - male, female, adult, children.
“It’s all about bringing unique things to the high street with excellent customer service. Everyone comments on how friendly the shops are in Corbridge and how good the customer service is.
“Each one of us works very hard in our business and we get to know our customers. It’s a real personal experience. And that is what the high street is going to have to turn into. Chain stores and so on can be replicated online. Our online offering complements us. But to be able to come into a physical shop, speak to people and engage with them is the most important thing.
“There is that social aspect to this as well. Having a hub of independent shops with knowledgeable owners and staff is crucial, All of us working together.
“This award comes on the back of continued support from our customers and a hub in Corbridge that independents can thrive in. Other places are now using Corbridge as an example of how they want to develop.
“If you promote and sell somebody’s product well, they want to be stocked in your store. In theory, we have more people who want to be stocked in Finale than we can actually fit in.
“You wouldn’t be able to place such good orders within the industry if you weren’t able to sell them. So it all comes back to the customers and the community. People want places to thrive in their local area. They want to be proud of it.”
“Social media is also really important. It allows you to market to a wider customer base. It’s about being able to let people know you are there. They then click through and see how much is on offer in a place like Corbridge. And they will then make the trip here.
“The ability to talk directly to customers from anywhere at any time is amazing. You’re building on the loyalty and giving something back. Engaging them and bringing them into the whole process.
“We posted the photo from the awards ceremony and got so much feedback from customers online who had been waiting to see if we had won. It’s great to be able to include them because you wouldn’t get awards if you didn’t have your customers coming back time and time again.
“We all have to make changes, we have to grow, we have to embrace the technology and the instant information people want. So we have to change the way we were. But we then equally have to be here to give a wave to somebody out of the window and offer that personal expert service when they come in. It’s a bit of everything.”
“So many people have called into the shop since we won the award to say, ‘Fantastic.’ While we had some lovely comments and many congratulations on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.”