Adrian Gilmour of Hungerford Arcade, winner of last year’s award for Britain’s Best Antiques Centre, shares his thoughts on how it helped his business
'We were thrilled to be told in March 2012 that we had won the title of Britain’s Best Antiques Centre in the Homes & Antiques and National Antiques Week awards.
As a family-run company, our aim is to make visiting us an enjoyable and fascinating experience, and we like to feel we have a warm relationship with our customers, many of whom have become personal friends.
This made it easy to ask them to vote for us so, as well as telling them personally about the competition, we printed fliers, which we gave out at the sales desk, and asked customers for their support on our Facebook page.
Crucially, perhaps, we also looked at what we could do to improve the business and realised we had to get on with tidying up our premises – our building dates from around 1660 and needs quite a lot of upkeep. So we tackled all those little jobs that tend to get put off during busy periods, including touching up the paintwork and installing a new customer loo.
Our campaign received a very positive response but we really didn’t know how this would translate into actual votes. We needn’t have worried as, when the votes were counted for our category, the numbers in our favour were overwhelming, and the congratulations we have had from well-wishers for winning the competition have been heartwarming.
It was great fun going to the awards ceremony and meeting Kirstie Allsopp and Mark Hill, and all the lovely people from Homes & Antiques. We had a very enjoyable evening, especially when Kirstie told us that she had bought her first antique from the arcade when she was nine years old!
Even better than that though was the attention we had from the press, both during and after the competition, with articles running in the local paper and on the radio. Our win even received a mention on the local television news.
It’s been a busy year for us (luckily coinciding with our 40th anniversary celebrations) and the publicity we’ve gained from this award helps keep the customers flocking in. Buyers frequently say they have heard about us through the press and television, and many tell us that the Homes & Antiques competition has brought them through our doors.
First-time visitors are very pleased to be shown our trophy, which is kept behind the sales desk, and we had a plaque specially made and put by the front door. Winning has certainly been good for business – one Australian lady read the article about us in H&A on arriving in the UK, and ordered a taxi straight to us from the airport!
At a difficult time for the high street, the award has helped Hungerford Arcade continue to flourish, which has to be good for the rest of the shops in the town too. We are extremely grateful to everyone who voted for us and supported us, and we heartily wish similar success to all the awards' entrants in 2013.'
Voting has now closed.