Articles Tagged with shops

Take the opportunity to explore independent shops and attractions on your holiday

Holidays are a marvellous way of seeking out new experiences of every type. When visiting Combe Martin, Ilfracombe and Woolacombe, one of the experiences on offer is discovering the many independent businesses tucked away in the towns and villages.

While in many parts of the UK the decline in small shops has led to domination by supermarkets, here you can buy meat from local farms at a butcher’s shops, a selection of seasonal fruit and vegetables at greengrocers, and bread, cakes and buns made by real bakers. The range of local produce extends from farm-produced clotted cream and ice cream to local beers, jams and chutneys, sausages, pies, chocolate and more. Often the difference between freshly produced food and that produced on an industrial scale is unbelievable.

Finding these treasures can require a bit of a hunt. We don’t have major shopping centres or malls and shops can be scattered about town. This makes exploring lanes and alleys even more fun. As well as food, there are art galleries, stained glass and other art shops, and specialist retailers including homeware, sports vintage clothing and more.

While you have the time, we hope you’ll enjoy browsing and discovering these treasures and receive good service from shopkeepers.



Combe Martin, Ilfracombe and Woolacombe are fortunate to have hundreds of good quality independent businesses that are a credit to our community.

Independents’ Day gives us the opportunity to celebrate these assets and demonstrate our appreciation by using them. Let’s use as many of these businesses as possible to secure their future and the well-being of our towns and villages not just on 4 July but every day.

Sadly, the alternative is plain to see in many towns across the UK.

Support local retailers on Independents’ Day

Wednesday 4 July is Independents’ Day in the UK when communities are being urged to support their local independent retailers.

The initiative is being run by Skillsmart Retail, which operates under licence to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and says:

“Independents’ Day flies the flag for local retailers: the ones who help make our villages, towns and cities so special. It’s about championing diversity on the high street and recognising the skills behind the shopfront.

“Buy at least one item from an independent retailer on the day and celebrate your independents. Your high street needs you!”

Retailers can download posters, put them in their shop windows and start getting their local communities excited about the campaign now. Skillsmart Retail is providing materials to help decorate shop windows and contact local media. There’s more information available on the Independents’ Day get ready web page.

If you run a shop in Combe Martin, Ilfracombe or Woolacombe in North Devon, take part in Independents’ Day and promote our retail offering so people can see what you offer.



Scam warning for shop owners

Below is a message forwarded by Launceston Chamber of Commerce warning about a scam to trick shops out of money. The scam has also been operated in other Cornish and Devon towns, so all shops should be alerted:

There was a big problem in Launceston last week which may be heading your way, and as many people as possible need to be aware of.

A woman has been visiting shops, taking things from shelves unseen, then taking them to the counter and saying she purchased the item(s) some days ago and they are damaged.

Before taking the items to the counter she is damaging the items herself, usually by cutting them with scissors, or simply breaking them in her hand.

Of course she has no receipts, but targets shops which are national chains (and may therefore offer refunds without receipts) or small independents where she tries to intimidate shop staff. If a refund is not offered quickly, she says she is in a hurry with children waiting in the car, in order to try and rush and confuse shop staff.

We know of 11 shops in Lanson where she managed to obtain a refund for her stolen/damaged goods. We know of another 3 who have found damaged (cut with scissors) good on their shelves – obviously from where the woman did not go through with the scam for whatever reason. I suspect more will come to light in the coming days.

She has targeted a range of shops, from pet shops to chemists, newsagents, hardware shops and gift shops, and seems to select goods with a value of £20 or more. Everything from reading glasses, books, pet toys & collars, scarves, gloves and hardware items.

Of course we have been in contact with the police, who initially refused to go round the shops to see who had been victims of this scam.

Thankfully one of our members went round all shops in town and alerted them to the issue. Because of the nature of the scam, many were unaware they had been conned, seeing it as just an individual instance of a customer refund for damaged goods.

Only when we all started to talk together about it have all the instances come to light. It seems the woman made good money in Launceston over the course of last week, taking hundreds of pounds from businesses who not only lost the cash they refunded for a sale that was never made, but are also left with damaged goods which they cannot sell.

If there is any way you can make your members aware of this scam then maybe people will be more on their guard than we were in Launceston, and maybe the woman can be caught if someone recognises the scam and calls the police while she is still in town.

The police are currently trying to find a CCTV picture, but it seems she has been dodging them well, despite being in town for several days over the weekend.

I think the main town system will take some trawling through as it is unmanned during the day, Boots CCTV was out of order and the one other shop she went to which had CCTV didn’t have a camera covering the downstairs sales area.

The best description we have is that she is between 35 and 45 with shoulder length dark hair, some have said slightly wavy, some have said it was straight. On Saturday she was wearing a fake fur coat (how people can spot her coat was a fake yet not know what her hair was like I don’t know) and presented herself as quite ‘well to do’, saying she lived in Falmouth and worked in M&S.

On Monday people say she was less well dressed and was wearing a white top and had a bad cold sore on the corner of her mouth, but of course that may have healed by now.The key to her identification is her method. If a refund is not quickly offered or people insist on receipts, she starts to get agitated and gives all sorts of reasons why she can’t return with the receipts. Her husband purchased the items, or she has driven a long way. She also targets items of which there is only one left on the shelf (or takes the remainder if there are a few).

While this is clever, as it means the shop staff cannot offer a straight replacement for the damaged item she is ‘returning’, it could also bring about her downfall. In small shops staff tend to know what stock they hold, and if they have just one or two units of a high value item they are likely to know if they have sold the last one(s). That is what bought this to light, she took an item to the counter in a pet shop and the girl knew they had only had one in stock; she had not sold it and had been working in the shop on the day the woman claims it was purchased. She raised the alarm with me and then went round to other shops and the scale of the scam became apparent.

The stories are still coming out from various shops as we find more who had been conned without even realising it. Today I have just learned that it is thought a woman was doing the same thing in Paignton 2 weeks ago. Most likely the same person, and more likely that she is touring local towns and only staying as long in each as she thinks she can get away with.