The Nisa Local Thomas Foodmarket in Norton, near Stockton on Tees is a 70-year success story, boasting a loyal customer base.
David Thomas, the third-generation retailer who currently runs the store his grandfather Arthur founded in 1950, says he works to the same basic principles as those applied when the shop first opened.
“I don’t want our customers going anywhere else and so I do everything I can to make sure they have no need to. We are a family business and have been here for a long time by offering the personal touch and it’s something we take real pride in,” he said.
Two factors, according to David, stand out in making the 2,500 sq ft store a success: regular investment to keep it up to date and offering best possible price for customers. It is no wonder then the store has seen footfall and weekly turnover climb and stay during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Sales during the height of COVID went up between 12 and 15 per cent and they have not yet dropped back to pre-COVID levels. We saw lots of new faces and some of those are still shopping with us and are not just buying top-up, they are coming in and doing a full shop,” he said.
Among the categories, David focuses much of his attention on licensed, which enjoyed a sales uptick of more than 20 per cent during the pandemic.
“We recently re-fitted the spirits gantry behind the counter with back lit panels which has had a fantastic effect and spirit sales have absolutely soared – almost tripling,” he said.
“We add in bespoke, individual lines and our customers know they can come here, and I’ll get pretty much anything they want. It’s a service they have come to expect, and we are happy to provide.”