A SPECIALIST card shop in Bishop’s Waltham and a New Forest farm shop are on the shortlist of retailers to be named Britain’s Best Small Shop of 2018.

Best Wishes stocks a variety of greeting cards, gifts, balloons and party items while Hockey’s Farm at Fordingbridge has transformed a small butchers shop on a run down farm into a thriving business.

The competition, managed by the Independent Retailers Confederation (IRC), is sponsored by booost, the new loyalty, gift and promotions app for independent retailers and their customers.

The winner will be announce at the Houses of Parliament tomorrow.

Established in 2011, Best Wishes Of Bishop’s Waltham has enjoyed rapid growth.

It is run by Russell Payne, 55, and his wife Yvonne, 51 and the employ two part-time staff.

Initially Yvonne was in sole charge but Russell took a full-time role last year after spending 15 years in marketing.

It tries to support the community, demonstrated by its sponsorship of the local football team, card delivery service offered to nearby residents and organising a Nativity at the town’s annual Christmas fair.

Russell said that, so far, the shop had not lost trade to online rivals unlike so many larger retailers and that the town was the ideal spot for them.

"Bishop's Waltham is a lovely little community," said Russell. "It's as though the it is 20 years behind the times an and people like that.

"We have so many individual shops and people love the personal service they get."

Russell said it was that the awards celebrated small shops.

"It will be the small shops that will keep the high street going," he said.

Hockey’s at Fordingbridge offers a broad range of local food and store cupboard essentials with what the competition organisers describe as a"a happy and joyful atmosphere".

In addition to the shop it has a cafe and an antique/bric a brac shop.

The shop also allows free access around the farm to allow visitors to meet the animals, poultry and birds in the aviary.

The business has implemented environmentally friendly practices and has recently had 140 solar panels installed as pert of a programme to reduce its carbon footprint.

“Despite all of the bad headlines and the high-profile closures of larger stores, we firmly believe that specialist independent retailers can thrive in this climate by delivering a truly unique retail experience,” explains Mark Walmsley, chairman of the Independent Retailers Confederation.

“The Best Small Shops competition enables us celebrate this unique industry, the passion, service, flexibility and knowledge of independent shop owners offer and show customers what makes independent retailers so special.”