Thousands of independent businesses in more than 100 towns have come together this month to highlight the importance of high streets and put on special £5 offers for two weeks, as part of the 'Totally Locally Fiver Fest'.

Fiver Fest is a campaign devised and run by Totally Locally, a High Street promotional organisation begun in Hebden Bridge that has been helping businesses and High Streets to help themselves since 2010.

For this year's Fiver Fest, Totally Locally has partnered with credit and debit card company Visa to encourage more small business owners to sign up to this celebration of independent high streets. Together, they are calling on consumers to divert £5 of their weekly spend to support the small businesses in their communities.

Fiver Fest is based around the established Totally Locally £5 message that says: “If every adult spent just £5 per week in their local independent shops and businesses, it would mean £4.4 million per year in each town going directly into its local economy. Which can lead to more jobs, a better high street, a stronger economy and a nicer place to live.”

The scheme has been running annually in individual towns in the UK and abroad over the past 7 years, but in 2019 Totally Locally brought together towns across the country in one big Fiver Fest celebration. Forty-three towns joined in and the result was regarded as sufficiently successful for the scheme to continue over the next two years, with the number of towns taking part this year now reaching over 100.

Towns participating now include Leigh, Prescot, Sale, Lyme, Ashby-de-la-Zouch, Andover, Bakewell, Carlisle, Chorley, Daventry, Glossop, Knutsford, Saltaire, Teddington, Worcester and Weymouth.

Totally Locally started out as a small idea in the North of England founded by Chris Sands, a specialist in branding and marketing, in Hebden Bridge, and has expanded in the UK and overseas. Local participants use the 'our Town Kit', following guidelines and using templates and an event strategy to run campaigns to help their own towns become stronger, more vibrant and resilient places.  If they come up with a successful new idea, it is shared with the rest of the network.

Chris started Totally Locally in 2010 when Calderdale Council put out a call for a shop local campaign, and he rose to the challenge. He decided to give the concept away to others who wanted it when he was inundated with requests from towns who had seen the effect Totally Locally had on his home town and the local area. The scheme runs alongside his own business The Good Company as a standalone project.

"Totally Locally has been given away for free but it doesn’t mean it hasn’t cost a lot," says Chris. "It has needed a lot of work to produce the full step by step guide, the carefully designed posters and templates and meeting with towns, talking to people and supporting people online. It’s all been done in the name of ‘The Economics of Being Nice’ - which makes business tick, makes life better and makes for a big adventure."

The kit has historically been free to groups but Chris is currently working on ways to fund Totally Locally so he can build on the success of boosting local economies and take the campaign to the next level. He wants to help local groups find funding to support their projects, through a guide to applying for funding from a local Council, BID (Business Improvement District) or other organisations that funds local initiatives.

Chris believes that support will be forthcoming when it's apparent what can be achieved. "It’s all about the passion you put into it. People will see that."

"You need to be approaching this with a sense of deep collaboration with your fellow volunteers and business owners," he warns, "and with a common goal and a sense that you really want to make this work."

"You need people with certain skills (design, web, organisation, social media), not amateurs. But if you have them. This is the kit for you."

Contact Chris Hands at