Shrewsbury’s appeal as a quirky, one-off destination took centre stage today as Shrewsbury BID prepared to celebrate national Independents’ Day on Saturday 4 July.

A giant red handbag was unveiled in St Alkmund’s Place, encouraging shoppers to enjoy the breadth and scale of the town’s independent offer and ‘shop local’ this summer.

Over 400 independents trade within the town from boutiques and small shops to artisan suppliers, restaurants, bars and family businesses – an illustration of the spirit of enterprise and individuality which thrives in the maze of Shrewsbury’s shopping streets.

The giant handbag is part of a campaign being staged by Shrewsbury BID which features prize giveaways on a summer theme through its social media sites and on the website. Over ten days, £500 worth of prizes from local businesses can be won.

Courtesy of Shrewsbury BID, ice cream will also be given out on Independents’ Day by the town’s favourite ice cream man, Ted Bowen, from his vintage cart.

Shrewsbury BID is also launching a new free magazine to showcase the town’s social scene of bars, restaurants, pubs, cinema and theatre to encourage more people to enjoy and support its night time economy. Over 55,000 copies are being distributed.

The summer initiative also features a ‘Love Sundays’ poster and advertising campaign to boost visitor numbers, promoting the new £1 tariff to park all day on Sundays in Shrewsbury. The offer applies to car parks owned by Shropshire Council and privately owned car parks.

Kirsten Henly, Shrewsbury BID Manager, said: “”The town has a real spirit of individuality and pride in the calibre and diversity of its independents and July 4th provides us with the ideal opportunity to join a national initiative to celebrate the important role they play in our economy, helping us to stand out as a town offering a genuinely unique shopping, dining and heritage experience.”

Independents’ Day is a national campaign to celebrate the diversity of the high street and the significance of independent retailers.

Shrewsbury’s top five independents facts

1. Wyle Cop is one of the country’s leading independent shopping streets with more than 40 independent retailers.

2. Shrewsbury Biscuits are made by local company Baked For You to a traditional recipe which dates back to 1760 and which includes rosewater as a key ingredient.

3. Tanners Wines, independent family shippers of estate wines since 1842, had its cellars requisitioned during the Second World War as air raid shelters; today the cellars still run underneath one of the town’s busiest shopping streets

4. Independent jewellery store Oberon, which has traded on Wyle Cop for 30 years, has the largest collection of semi-precious stones in the country, sold from just 10ft by 10ft of retail space.

5. Moli Tea House in the Market Hall is the town’s first dedicated Chinese tea house and sources its teas directly from a Chinese tea master.