Living the dream!

Awards Profile – National Lottery Retailer of the Year 2014

BACK in 1972, yes some of us are that old, the Geordie band Lindisfarne made it to number five in the charts with their biggest hit, Meet Me on the Corner – complete with the opening lines:
“Hey Mr Dreamseller where have you been?
“Tell me have you dreams I can see?

Some 42 years later retailers all over the UK are selling the chance to dream every Saturday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday to customers picking up their National Lottery tickets.
And for Des Barr – owner of Sinclair Barr Newsagents in Glasgow Road, Paisley, winner of Scottish Grocer’s National Lottery Retailer of the Year Award 2014, run in conjunction with the National Lottery provider Camelot – the dreams don’t stop there. While only a few lucky folks pick up the giant rollover jackpots that make the headlines many more see dreams come true as a result of the cash paid out to good causes, the other side of the multi-million pound National Lottery equation.

Local hospices, churches, mother and toddler groups, sports clubs and others in the Paisley area have benefited from National Lottery funding. Sinclair Barr tells the news.

It’s fair to say Des is a National Lottery enthusiast, he reckons it has changed his business and many others. He reckons it also doesn’t always get the recognition and appreciation it deserves. And, while he’s more than ready to share ideas and, if necessary, offer constructive criticism to National Lottery provider Camelot, he’s clear that he sees Camelot as his most impressive supplier. The organisation and its work is, in his view, ‘very slick’.
“The opening day of the Olympics, for example, was a unique day here,” he said. “100 UK millionaires and the Euromillions. I think that got people actually thinking about the Olympics.
“We had put out about 8,000 slips in the immediate area; the uptake was fantastic. Then the opening ceremony was excellent and the buzz in the shop next day was great.”

Inside and out Sinclair Barr takes the opportunity to publicise the National Lottery. On the giant Euromillions and UK millionaires draw that marked the opening of the London Olympics the shop distributed 8,000 slips locally and saw a “fantastic uptake”.

The newsagency game is an early risers’ trade. The Sinclair Barr trading day begins at 4.40am and it begins with a rush – organising the delivery of 1,600 papers to several parts of Paisley and Renfrewshire. At the same time the shop will sell up to 50 dozen rolls, over-the-counter newspapers, cigarettes, soft drinks and more to the 300 or so customers typically served before 8am.
“You’d be surprised how many people travel for work at that time,” he said.
“We do very well out of the airport, both staff and people who are dropping friends and family off.
“People know we’re here, we’re open and we’re quick. And they don’t want to get to the airport and pay WH Smith prices.
“It’s important to be friendly and I think we’re known as a shop where’s there’s a lot of banter, especially about the football. But I like to think it’s quick banter.
“At lunchtime all the schoolkids chase the adults away. But we don’t mind. The kids are good. We’ve never had to advertise for a paper boy or girl.”
So, what makes it National Lottery Retailer of the Year? After all there were many other very good finalists.
Judges found that Sinclair Barr stood out in many ways.

The main window display is just one of the sites used to highlight grants to local good causes.

Des and the business are fully committed to selling the National Lottery and not just the draw tickets and scratch cards, but the fun, the scope for conversation, the dreaming and, perhaps more than anything else, the details of how lottery funds have helped a huge number of local good causes.
Just about every opportunity to project the National Lottery is seized, every square centimetre of available space utilised.
Staff will remind customers of a big prize draw in the offing but will choose their times and people carefully.
Upsell too many times and you will put people off, Des said.
But if you have a queue and you carefully choose a regular customer that you know will be up for a lottery chat you can influence several people at one time, especially if they start talking about it between themselves.
Staff will suggest scratchcards as greeting card add-ons. National Lottery special anniversaries are marked by the shop’s own displays. Use of official POS is maximised.

Camelot Group head of sales, Peter Cooper, left and TV presenter Georgie Thompson, right, present the Scottish Grocer National Lottery Retailer of the Year Award to Sinclair Barr Newsagents in Paisley.

The main window display is taken up by the National Lottery and in that space, and in many others inside the shop, the team posts notices about local charities and causes that have benefitted from lottery funding.
“Just look at how much, just how many millions are raised for the good causes,” Des said. “No amount of raffles or collection boxes on shop counters could come close.
“The local Accord Hospice got a grant of £430,000 for an extension that took the number of beds up. How long would that have taken by any other method?”
Des and his team at Sinclair Barr Newsagents: our National Lottery Retailer of the Year – up early, working hard, and living, selling … and appreciating … the dream.