Nemo Office Club member, Stationery Supplies in Marple and Wilmslow, was the proud recipient of the Independent Retailer of the Year award at the Boss Awards last week, adding to the Best Non-Specialist Independent Retailer of Greetings Cards North award picked up at the RETAS awards the previous week.

“I am completely blown away by the awards,” said business owner Sarah Laker. “My social media has been going mad recently with messages of congratulations – I am so lucky to be doing a job that I love and to have customers that share my passion for the shops.”

The Boss Awards comes with recognition of the efforts Sarah made to offer a Covid-safe environment over the past 20 months, demonstrating an ability to ‘Bounce-Back’ and having a positive influence within the community. The judges were hugely impressed by the way that Sarah had campaigned for High Street retailers on Radio 2, 4 and 5, as well as on BBC and ITV News and in the Mail on Sunday, in addition to supporting her community.

“To me retail is about being part of a community,” Sarah explained. “If our local community is prospering and supportive of each other, that will rub off on the local businesses as well. I have always had a wonderful social media following and I used that over the pandemic to promote activity with live walkabouts in the shop and highlighting actions taken to ensure the safety of our customers. I also shaved my head during lockdown to raise £7,500 for a local charity, which created huge amounts of interest in the shop and our role in the community!”

In addition to being proactive in the community of Marple, where she also produces a Marple calendar that has raised over £400 for charity, Sarah chose the pandemic and lockdown as a good time to open a second shop in neighbouring Wilmslow. “It seemed too good an opportunity to miss,” Sarah said. “It gave me the opportunity to replicate what had been achieved in Marple. The timing could have been better, but I have had fantastic support from my suppliers and Nemo Office Club. So far so good as the Stationery Supplies brand and reputation continues to expand in the area.”

Sarah’s passion for retail has also been acknowledged by her dealer group, with Nemo Office Club managing director Tim Beaumont acknowledging that: “During lockdown we held many conversations and Zoom calls with our retail members and Sarah always impressed us all with the way she was thinking about adapting her business, keeping herself, her family and her customers safe, even putting this first before sales and profit. Despite some challenging times she remained positive, motivated and an inspiration to us all, a fully deserving winner of the award.”

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