AN INDEPENDENT store is in the running to be named as Britain’s Best Small Shop of 2020.

Richardson’s of Whitehaven, a Cumbrian wine merchant and coffee roaster, is taking part in the annual competition to highlight the best of the UK’s independent traders and celebrate their role in local communities.

Run by Gerard Richardson, it has also been shortlisted for a special award to recognise retailers that have demonstrated innovation to combat the impact of Covid-19.

The competition is run by the Independent Retailers Confederation.

The shop, on Lowther Street, measures only 15ft by 20ft, yet it manages to offer a range of nearly 1,000 fine wines, vintage ports and foods.

During the lockdown, though it had closed for renovation, Gerard kept the coffee roasting going and donated it to the local hospital, ambulance teams, fire service, police and the Civil Nuclear Constabulary at Sellafield.

In the renovation Gerard installed a giant train set on an 8ft diameter track in the shop window which has helped with footfall.

The shop launched its new website during lockdown which means it can now offer Covid-19 safe deliveries within 25 miles, and kerbside collections.

In addition, he decided to help increase footfall for Whitehaven by launching and part sponsoring a town-wide exhibition of old photographs, displayed in shop windows to encourage people to walk around the town and re-engage with traders.

The store offers discounts to residents, those in the emergency services, armed forces and veterans.

The new store payment system has enabled it to offer e-gift cards which have proved popular. Gerard will also be familiar to many for the events he has organised which drew hundreds of thousands of visitors.

Mark Walmsley, chair of the confederation, said: “These shops offer choice, diversity and genuine customer service – and, after what has been a rather dark year, that has to be worth celebrating.”

The winner will be announced next month.

For information about the shop, visit