Three happy c-store retailers can celebrate Christmas in the sure knowledge that they have won the confidence of their neighbourhood. Margaret Low, who manages the 900 sq ft Spar store in Munro Avenue, Kilmarnock, and Jane and David Scott, who run a similar sized store in Bootle, West Cumbria, took honours at the Robert Wiseman Dairies Neighbourhood Shop of the Year awards, sponsored by The Grocer. The Wiseman awards dictated that local shoppers nominated the stores, judging them as neighbourhood outlets that offered quality, value and service in well merchandised, hygienic premises. Margaret's Spar store won the top award for affiliated stores, while Jane and David Scott's village store was judged the best unaffiliated outlet. It was the first major competition that either Margaret or the Scotts had entered and their award-winning entries had to clear hurdles that involved an initial visit from one of the judges, plus entry to regional and national finals before they were declared the overall winners. The Spar store is one of 14 owned by the Gillespie Group in Scotland and Margaret has worked for the company for 16 years. She spent 14 years at the group's Crosshouse store in Kilmarnock before becoming manager of the Munro Avenue store two years ago. It is situated near a housing estate, opens daily from 7am to 10pm and faces competition from an independent and from Asda, Safeway and Tesco, all a mile away in Kilmarnock's town centre. The Spar shop includes a post office and stocks all the accepted convenience lines, including newspapers, magazines and alcohol. Margaret is responsible for 14 staff members. Bootle Stores is 30 miles from Barrow-in-Furness. Jane Scott is the postmistress, while David runs the c-store. The couple have run the store for 19 years, with the help of five part time staff and earlier this year refurbished it at a cost of £20,000 with the help of a £5,000 grant from the Countryside Agency. David said: "It was out with the old and in with the new, from floor to ceiling. And it paid off because turnover escalated and has settled at 18% above the level prior to the refit." The Scotts believe that service is the key to a village business. David said: "In addition to the post office, news, off licence and online lottery, we offer dry cleaning, laundry, Calor gas and clothing repairs." To endorse the service aspect David drives 15 miles each day to deliver newspapers to older folk who are unable to reach his store. {{GROCER CLUB }}