Julia Keeling with her Bunny Map

Hi, my name is Chris Fox and I’m the digital content manager for greeting card and gift shop Wishes of Cudworth. I try to look as Wishes as a brand. Not a corporate, soulless brand I must add. No, it’s rather about consistency of tone and dreaming up new ways to promote the shop. To push the limits of what a small shop in Cudworth can achieve.

Part of that is coming up with promotions and events that really capture the imagination of our customers. This year I ran the Cudworth Bunny Trail a retail trail in Barnsley, South Yorkshire. If you allow me the time I’d like to share my experiences with you over seven neat bullet points….

What’s retail Trail?

I’ve explored this subject over on my blog Gift Shop Hub with my article “5 Great Art & Shopping Trails” (Link: https://giftshophub.co.uk/5-great-art-shopping-trails) but don’t click on that link just yet. Here’s the educational bit first: The aim of an art trail is to follow a map to explore a village, town or city. To visit each location and then find a clue or object. The trail can feature landmarks, public areas and as our own Cudworth Bunny Trail did, shops. There’s been lots of wonderfully creative art trails from Elephants in Sheffield to Bears in Birmingham.

The Big Hoot

7Why Bunnies?

Is a question I thought no-one would ask but everyone does. Did people ask why Sheffield had a herd of elephants? Why, yes it seems they did and there’s a convincing answer which involves the First World War plus an elephant called Lizzie. So, why bunnies turned into a legitimate questions which couldn’t be answered with because, um, erm, they’re…cute?

The link between rabbits and Barnsley goes back to the times of the Vikings. Hands up anyone who’s now thinking of little rabbits wearing horned helmets, fighting battles with weasels and rowing long boats?

In fact, Rabbit Ings Country Park in Bansley has a rabbit carved on its hillside, which can be seen from miles around. This Norse image ties into the name of the site – ‘ings’ being a Norse word or description of low-lying wetland and of course a rabbit!

6Ok, the Cudworth Bunny Trail, tell me more?

The Cudworth Bunny Trail was created by a fluffle of local shops on Cudworth high-street. 9 shops agreed to have brightly coloured, cheerful bunnies hidden in their windows. I then used my design wizardly with a little help from Jessica Woodhouse Illustration to create a map, stickers, posters and website.

Using the map people explored our village, visiting each shop to find the colour-coded bunnies. There was even a treat bag once they’d collected all 9 stickers.

5What kind of feedback did you get from the other shops in Cudworth?

Mixed. Some of the more modern thinking shops got it straight away. Others, less so. I was surprised and slightly dishearten by the hostile negatively I received from a few shop owners when trying to pitch the event. However the high street heroes outnumbered the negative nellies and many embraced the idea. My advice is to focus on the positive reactions and using Taylor Swift’s mantra, “Shake it off” when it comes to doubters.

4Did you ever mistakenly type “The Cudworth Trial”?

Yes, more than once. The worst occasion was when I created the Facebook event with the wrong name. Like the recent “Cats Eyes Removed” signs that had to be changed to “Road Studs Removed” a quick name change was in order. The children of Cudworth were spared the horrors of the bunny trial.

3Was it a success?

It was… lots of our shops had direct sales from the trail plus the added bonus was it lead to the creation of our new super powered retailer association: Cudworth Businesses & Community Together. We hit the front page of the local paper, had a couple of bloggers visit and most importantly it connected with the local area. This wasn’t a cash grab but a way of giving something back to the community. A free event that anyone could take part in and enjoy.

2What’s the plan for next years trail?

The idea for next year is to upscale the trail. Again we’ll have rabbits in the shop windows but with the twist that artists will decorate them. There will also be large rabbits/hares in public areas either 2ft or 5ft tall if we can raise enough money and get passed by the Council. Back to the smaller bunnies, the artists will get a free rabbit to paint in their style. The idea is that the trail would generate local press, great publicity for the artists and then hopefully end with a mini exhibition plus charity auction of the bunnies. We’ve already had a great local response from this year Cudworth Bunny Trail but next year we have a chance to really make a positive impact. To start something that will run year after year and make Cudworth known all over Yorkshire.

1Bonus question: What the fluff is a fluffle?

A question that nobody has asked but I used the word perhaps more than necessary when promoting the event and earlier in this article too. A fluffle is name given to a group of bunnies. All together: awww!

During my research in animal groupage I always discovered a Congregation of Alligators, Quiver of Cobras, Mischief of Mice, Murder of Porgs (The new Star Wars critters) and Congress of Salamanders.