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Big Issue founder Bird launches local loyalty scheme

LONDON - John Bird, founder of the Big Issue, has launched a new loyalty card scheme that is designed to encourage people to shop at small local retailers.

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Dubbed Wedge Card, the scheme has already signed up a number of shops in London, including the legendary Charing Cross Road bookshop Foyles, with plans to spread across the country.

For customers, membership to the scheme costs £20, for which they will receive a variety of benefits depending on the individual retailers involved. Cards will be available from participating stores and online at Wedgecard.co.uk.

For cards sold online, £10 will go to charity and the rest will go to Wedge, which is a for-profit social enterprise business, while retailers will keep £5 for each card they sell and £5 will go to charity.

According to reports, no business that has more than 10 branches will be eligible to be part of Wedge. At the moment, the scheme is running on Lambs Conduit Street in central London, an area with an interesting mix of independent shops. There are plans to roll it out in Stratford, Brixton, Southwark and Marylebone and Covent Garden.

Bird said: "We believe that communities thrive when there is a hub of local businesses in an area. People in communities become disengaged from their area when local shops close down.

"If we rely on larger businesses, away from the local high street, that people have to drive or get a bus to, it can spell the death of a community. With Wedge, we want to help re-energise communities by supporting local businesses."

Pic: Fin Fahey

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