A HUMBLE shop has beaten major supermarkets to a national award – after they banned swearing.
Courteous shopkeepers Dennis and Linda Williams felt customers lacked “basic manners and respect” as they swore while collecting groceries.
To combat potty-mouthed punters, the prim husband and wife team actively promote a strict ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ policy.
Any customers who breach the zero-tolerance rules at the Premier store in Oxgangs, Edinburgh, is hit with a store-style Asbo and turfed out into the street until their “behaviour changes”.
The store owners have been praised for their role in helping improve the community.
And last month their actions beat Asda and Sainsbury’s to the coveted Responsible Retailer of the Year award (RRY) at the Drinks Retailing Awards in London.
Linda – who has worked in the store for around 17 years – said: “This is a family owned business and has been around for 30 years this March.
“Banning swearing is important because no one wants to hear people shouting or swearing – it’s like people have lost their basic manners and respect for people around them.
“I was brought up in such a way that you said ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ and just treated people the way you would like to be treated.”
The store also employed a number of other measures to counter other problem issues.
New digital scanners show staff when an age-restricted product is being purchased – customers than have to provide proof of age or graciously accept being refused if they have no ID.
Dennis and Linda have also introduced a strict limitation on alcohol in a bid to crack down on any local binge drinking.
Customers are not able to buy more than three bottles of cider or two eight packs of beer.
Linda added: “We don’t have a lot of problems with anti-social behaviour but that’s because we operate zero-tolerance.
“It tends to be young men who come in swearing – and the curious thing is they don’t realise they are doing it until you point it out.
“They then apologise – but at least they know what to expect unless their behaviour changes.
“It makes the customer realise that we take this very seriously and they’re much less likely to try it on.”
The shopkeepers have displayed the RRY trophy on a mantel behind the till to act as reminder that the shop is doing well because the customers are doing well.
Linda added: “We wouldn’t have got the trophy if our rules weren’t working so it’s up on display for everyone to see as it’s as much the customers’ as it is ours.”
Rosie Davenport, who was on the judging panel who decided the store deserved the award, said: “The award was given because they are community focused – their policies on swearing are just one of the factors.
“Other include their selling attitudes towards alcohol wholesale and another, possibly unique factor, which is if there is a teenager who having a bit of a hard time then they take them in and offer them work experience.
“It’s things like this that show they are in touch with the communities needs and adapt to suit their customers – your bigger supermarkets often don’t understand that because their policies can be written miles away in a headquarters where the heads don’t fully understand individual needs of the community.”
Edinburgh Pentlands MSP Gordon MacDonald congratulated the couple on their amateur social work and said other shops could learn from them.
He said: “Shops like the Broadway Convenience Store are right in the heart of local communities where, as well as providing a retail service, they have a special role to play.”
A Lothian and Borders Police spokesman added: “The force strongly supports responsible retail practices which prevent those under the age of 18 from purchasing alcohol.”