Happy Families inspired trail brings character to local high street shops

Posted on: Monday, July 24, 2023

This summer, unique and independent shops from four towns across the district will open their doors for a Happy Families inspired walking trail.

Created by Newark and Sherwood District and taking place in the towns of Newark, Southwell, Edwinstowe and Ollerton, the trails are a free and entertaining activity that the whole family can enjoy. Designed to encourage people to shop local and explore their local high streets, a series of collectable character cards have been hidden in participating shops.

Each town has a series of eight collectable picture cards to be discovered. The cards feature fictional shop keepers with designs influenced by the traditional card game Happy Families. Unique to each set of cards is the addition of a character based on a real-life shop keeper from each town, bringing to life independent shop keepers in a fun character form. A series of promotional videos will also showcase the independent shop keepers and their specially designed characters.

Councillor Paul Peacock, Leader of Newark and Sherwood District Council said: "The Happy Families trails are a great way for visitors to have some fun with their family this summer and be in with a chance to win an amazing prize!

“It's so easy to get involved. Venture to either Newark, Southwell, Edwinstowe or Ollerton to take part. I know the participating shops are excited to welcome new people through their doors!"

Anyone wishing to complete the trail simply needs to obtain a free trail sheet from a participating shop displaying a poster in their window. Trail sheets should be returned to the shop detailed on the sheet for entry into the prize draw.

Prizes up for grabs include tickets to enjoy Snow White pantomime at Palace Theatre Newark, a £250 MasterCard voucher to spend in local shops and a £100 toy bundle. Plus, the first 25 entries received in each town will also win a back-to-school pack!

Martin Bishop from Access Models in Newark town centre, who represents Newark as the character Mr Hobby, said: "I am really excited about the trail and I jumped at the chance to become a character and promote what Newark has to offer! It’s a fantastic way to remind people that you can’t beat a personal, friendly in-store experience. The kids will love it, and the prizes on offer are substantial so head into town and keep a look out for the posters in shop windows.”

Carole Willey from Merry Maid in Ollerton, who is depicted as the Miss Knit'N'Sew character in the trail, also said: "I'm looking forward to seeing so many new and familiar faces in and around Ollerton, popping in to say hello to me in Merry Maid and the other shops involved and taking part in the Happy Families trail this summer!

"I really welcome the effort the District Council are taking to get people into our lovely shops and supporting our businesses. It's been no secret that the last few years have felt hard for us independent shops, but the continuous support of the local community, old and new, means a lot."

The trail comes as part of Newark and Sherwood District Council's programme of help and support for businesses during the cost-of-living crisis. The retail sector has particularly felt the hit following the COVID-19 pandemic and the rise in the cost of living, with ONS reporting that between 2021 and 2022, retail sales volumes fell by 3%.

Whilst data suggests that Newark and Sherwood's town centres are faring better than the national average, with the areas vacancy rate being 6.76% compared to the national 13.8%, the District Council recognised the need to support local retailers.

The trails aim to showcase the unique independent shops across the district and the wide range of products from local friendly business owners whilst also providing families with a free activity in the summer holidays from 24 July to 1 September. Summer brings many exciting event programmes and is an ideal time to entice those visiting our towns to discover independent retailers.

Councillor Paul Peacock continues: "Newark and Sherwood District Council is committed to providing support to our local independent retailers who make up such an important, vibrant element of our high street. We are lucky that 71% of all shops in the district are made up of independent retailers, and 14.3% of our residents are employed in some form of retail. It is really important that we continue to support this sector and our residents however we can."

More information on how to take part, and hints about where to find the character cards in each town, can be found on the Newark and Sherwood District Council website: https://www.newark-sherwooddc.gov.uk/happyfamilies/

Competition terms and conditions for each town can be found here: