Phlok To The Future

Can Phlok, the new shopping initiative, bring shoppers back to their local town centre? Boroughbridge is currently trying out the interesting Phlok scheme for High Street businesses

The launch of the Phlok initiative, an initiative that’s been put in place to encourage shoppers back onto their local high street, hit Boroughbridge in February. The big launch of the scheme was Saturday 15 February , with free Phlok points being offered in participating stores plus a treasure hunt to encourage shoppers to join in.
So what exactly is Phlok and how does it work? Put simply, it’s a virtual reward scheme that awards shoppers with tokens for buying from member businesses. These can be exchanged for goods in any other stores participating in the scheme, who are then reimbursed by Phlok.
It’s a win-win situation, with shopkeepers being paid the full value of goods sold and shoppers getting something ‘for free’ as a reward for staying local. The idea is the brainchild of Irish entrepreneur Paul Graham, who told the Yorkshire Post, ‘Phlok’s goal is to connect local people back to local businesses. We are very proud of what it has achieved so far and believe that Phlok will encourage a revival in local shopping.’

It’s a really good scheme for independent retailers, connecting up districts and opening up new markets for us.

Louise Leong is spokeswoman for the Love Boroughbridge co-operative scheme, which has been running successfully since last year and helps local traders to promote their services through print and online media. She said, ‘We’d already seen that take off and it seemed that joining Phlok was the next logical step to reinforce our ‘shop local’ message.’
Louise has more reasons than most to want local shoppers back in Boroughbridge. With her husband Daniel, she owns three shops in the town centre. He runs the olde-worlde sweet shop Bailey’s of Boroughbridge, she has a bridal wear shop and a gents’ outfitter. They were both aghast at the downturn in local trade, which could mean disaster for the 90 percent of shops that are independent.
‘We needed to enlist at least 15 local businesses into the scheme to make it worth our while,’ explains Louise, ‘and in fact by the launch date on 15 February we had plenty of enthusiasm for the idea.’
One shopkeeper who is delighted to be part of the Phlok scheme is Nick Chadwick, who has run the specialist off licence Winearray for the last 10 years. He’s already garnered 35 local followers and regards Phlok as  ‘social media with a purpose’ to connect local businesses to new customers as well as other companies in the area. ‘Obviously it’s early days, but we are hopeful that the scheme will benefit us and our customers, which can only be good for the future of Boroughbridge.’
Likewise Hugh Fink, owner of The Fruit Basket, is totally positive about Phlok. ‘It’s a really good scheme for independent retailers, connecting up districts and opening up new markets for us. Right from the start, shoppers and businesses have been keen to get involved.’
Of course, only time will tell whether Phlok can inject new life into our ailing high streets, but early signs in Boroughbridge have been encouraging. ‘Considering it’s such a short space of time since the launch of Phlok, there seem to be quite a few followers around town,’ says Louise Leong. ‘Certainly feedback has been positive from other traders as well as shoppers.’
You can find out more about Phlok by downloading the app to see which Boroughbridge shops are involved in the scheme; if you don’t have a smart phone, go online at www.phlok.com/boroughbridge or pick up a card from one of the participating shops in town, where you see the distinctive orange and turquoise logo.