A local business with a personal touch has won the Guardian Series’ Love Local Retailer Award.

The prizes were set up to recognise the very best of local business and readers voted in their thousands for their favourite shops.

Rowe Sports, in Chingford, won best Speciality Retailer, the shop offers sport equipment and staff pride themselves on offering the best customer care that they could possibly give.

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Store manager Jeff Ferguson said: “I would like to say a very big ‘thank you’ to each and every person that voted for us as The Best Local Speciality Retailer in the recent poll.

“It really was a wonderful surprise for us all at Rowe Sports to win this award.

“Myself, Tina, and Syed could not believe that we was so well thought of, it was a total surprise, and gave us such a lovely feeling.”

Epping Forest Guardian: Rowe Sports, ChingfordRowe Sports, Chingford

The shop tries to find items the big retailers might not have and offers customers services, such as printing and embroidery for kit names and numbers, that customers would struggle to find elsewhere.

This year, the shop celebrated the fact that they have been trading for over 50 years, first as Greaves and Penn in the early 1970s and then as Row Sports by the early 1980s.

Jeff added: “Hopefully we can carry on for many more years to come.

Epping Forest Guardian: Store manager Jeff FergusonStore manager Jeff Ferguson

“The problem we have is that small independent shops are slowly being wiped out by the big-name brands on the high street, but the small shops always offer something different to the large retail giants, good knowledge of the products and a nice friendly service.”

Jeff added that big companies will refuse to give the best products to small shops and so he has to find other ways to set the business apart.

Epping Forest Guardian: Rowe Sports shop floorRowe Sports shop floor

“They don’t feel small shops like us should survive basically,” he added.

The shop boasts a wide range of T-shirts, shorts, and track-suits, as well as big sellers in the back-to-school market like Skechers and Kickers shoes.