Shop Small & Shop Local - What's it all about?
In the lead up to Christmas you may have seen these two phrases all over the place on social media and wondered what they meant. A lovely friend of mine asked me to write a guest blog for her website about it and this is my own version just for you. The aim is to explain what these expressions mean to me and hopefully show what a real difference you can make with where and how you spend your hard earned pennies during the pandemic and beyond.
So, first of all, what makes your high street special and why do you keep going back even during lockdown? It’s the independent shops, cafes and hairdressers where you get that personal touch isn't it? They know your name and you can find that amazing gift there that you can’t find anywhere else. Customer service is a priority, and they adapt to situations because they listen to their customers.
There's always that one place that sells the fresh bread that is out of this world or the cafe that has been offering takeaway and a chat all the way through lockdown. Or there's the newsagent open at all times of day or night or the local gift shop that have had a click and collect service during the pandemic.
These wonderful places are also connected to local suppliers whose own business relies on the sales generated through high street stores plus online too. They may be home-based makers or have a small workshop somewhere and a box or two of products supplied on a regular basis enables their business to keep going and grow.
All sorts of things can be built up from these small beginnings. My own business supplies cards and gifts to several fab shops in Bristol & Swindon and even during the lockdown they have stayed in touch and worried about how I'm doing. I have had to rely on people shopping small online in the last year instead which is another way you can support small business.
Shopping local and shopping small is all about keeping these unique businesses alive so that they are there for you beyond the pandemic. Shopping online with them is just as important, even moreso during lockdown. They may be harder to find but their unique products make shopping a much more varied experience.
These are the sorts of products that make great gifts because they aren't in the chain stores or anywhere else. You can let them know they came from a maker just down the road which will also feel really special. They can be custom-made or personalised just for you, delivered by hand and the maker will stay in touch too. You'll be a person to them not just a customer.
So, shopping small and local has wide-reaching benefits – for you as a person, for the local economy, the local community, the local high street and more. Every sale, even just a card, is vital to someone’s prosperity and survival.
In fact 'Just a Card' is a campaign that goes a long way to support shops and sellers in telling the world just what it means to shop small and shop local. They are a grass roots organisation who are leading the way in getting the word out there. You may see their posters in show windows or their enamel pins on market traders lapels and you can find out more here https://www.justacard.org/
If you love the idea but aren't sure where to start there are a few tips here to get you started
- Find your locals – when you’re out and about take notice of the tiny shops you often walk past and look them up online when you get home. If you can do pop along to local markets and community events. Check out any local Facebook pages or friends feeds as there will often be some suggested gems there. Use ‘Not On the High Street’ or ‘Etsy’ as a replacement for Google.
- Shop early – avoid pinch points in demand and delivery, reducing stress for you and the seller. So if you have a birthday coming up don’t leave things too late and shop from September for Christmas if you can.
- Contact them – if you’re not sure of the process or the options or delivery times get in touch and you’ll get all the information you need.
- Shop regularly – if you can please do return to shop with them again as it will make a real difference to their business and confidence. Build a shopping relationship with them which you definitely won’t find on Amazon.
- Follow them – find them on social media and follow them, like and comment on their posts and share the ones you can. Put product reviews online and share the secret amongst your friends and family. If they are listed on Google leave feedback on there too or drop them a message to say how happy you were with their service. This all helps massively and makes you feel good too.
- Join them – if they have mailing list sign up as there will often be special offers or early access to new products or event bookings.
And finally do enjoy browsing on my online shop, check out the Stockists page for my local outlets and websites and take a look at the Events page too as there will be markets and art trails added in as we gradually get back out into the world.
Hope to see you there
dona B xx