Paige Eades

UK Lifestyle Blog

How To Support Local and Buy Independent

How To Support Local and Buy Independent

I recently published a post around how I'm aiming to become more sustainable, and a little bit of a stance on where I hope to be within the blogging community and my ethics and wanted to add onto this with some of the best ways I have found to support your local independents.

Shopping small and local is a great way to pick up some really great, quirky bits as well as doing your bit for the environment. As many independent businesses make their own products in studios where they are based; it significantly reduces air pollution by transit and also by the consumer as they are more likely to be within walking distance. 

In times like these; re-emerging after COVID-19 hit all shops and economies hard, it is especially important to change your shopping habits back your local stores and businesses. Although big businesses and chains will have been hit too; they have insurance to cover for these events, and many contingency plans. Big companies, on the whole, care soley for their profits and will often exploit workers and land in order to maximise them. 

On the other hand, smaller businesses and local independents who are usually sole traders don't cause nearly as much damage and can help boost your local economy by staying true to their roots. These are the people you need to be helping with your consumer power in these difficult times; and your business will be invaluable to them. Use your consumer power wisely and reap the benefits! 

Explore your town's highstreet.

The UK has always been great at this; and a slight anomaly in comparison to other countries where big chains and superstores have been allowed to take over all towns/cities. Take a walk into your local town and head through the hughstreet and all the little avenues - you will for sure find some gems. 

Whether it be jewellery stores, bookshops, artisan cafes, you name it - the identity of your town is often based upon the independents and what they can contribute. Many towns often give maps of supporting their born and bred retailers; it's definitely worth picking one of these up. My local town details some of the best independents to go to by interviewing and engaging with sellers and shops on their website and across social media too. 

I remember whilst in sixth form I wanted to find some really nice coffeeshops that I could study and complete assignments in that wasn't Pret or Starbucks - if I can help a local business owner I would much prefer to do that. By taking a little walk around and really taking time to notice and read all signs directing down a little alleyway meant I found some great places that I love, that I continue to use now in university. 

What is great about visiting your highstreet is that the shopkeepers will remember you and really engage with your purchase and be much more likely to offer genuine help and guidance if you have any issues. Something about building relationships with the places you buy from, and not being just another number is just so appealing - and you can really see how your purchases help. 

Visit local markets.

My local town is known as a market town; which means that it has a license to hold markets throughout the town and has done historically. There is a huge market hall which is lovely to walk into, and the opportunity for independents to gather once a week in a huge market set up in the Square to trade which is great to see a selection of each retailer in one place. 

I love being able to visit all of these amazing stalls and people who are only a few metres away from one another and see such a wide variety of products. Pork pies on one side, jewellery on the next, clothes by that - it's such a pleasant, bustling atmosphere that I would recommend to anyone. 

Often store holders will have business cards which detail the address and website of the store which is great to research later if you love the store - and to see other peoples reviews and comments on the store. You can often find times for markets on your towns website, or also via Facebook. Many sellers are getting great at using Facebook for their local community and you can always follow your favourites and see when they are selling. 

How To Support Local and Buy Independent

Purchase from Etsy.

Etsy is a great way to find independent businesses that may not necessarily be in your area; and I have used this on multiple occasions. There are quite a lot of things on Etsy; and all it requires is a few filters to get the independent produced products you need. 

I tend to filter my Etsy searches to 'UK Only' and it works really well - many UK sellers also offer free next day delivery as well if you are based here which is a great incentive too. 

The only thing I would be careful with regarding shopping with Etsy is the fact that the website does take a percentage of the sellers revenue in return for the platform; so if you can see if the seller has a separate, independent website that you can place the order through so they can receive the full percentage of the sale. It's a small thing; but always worth the check - you know that if you were the seller; you'd want the full amount for your sale!

Engage with their social media.

A small one; but it is such a big help. Small businesses and your local independents rely mostly on word of mouth from locals, friends to friends, or influencer to audiences etc and a major help is by sharing these posts to gain awareness to these great stores. More awareness equals more potential sales, right? 

It costs absolutely nothing to share a post, retweet, comment and engage with stores, or give the business page a 'like' - and makes the world of difference to these small, local stores. I know that I've only found out about certain places from friends sharing posts or leaving comments on posts etc - obviously you don't have to go overboard on sharing every single independent business you can find, just a post from one of your favourites. 

I tend to find Facebook is great for this as it's your own friends and family etc who are close to your local shops and town too and tend to be more likely to use your advice/recommendations as they actually know you in person, but any platforms can work!

Leave good reviews.

When you purchase from your local highstreet and independents; be sure to leave them a review! Not only will it make the sellers day by having some feedback (don't you like being told you're great?) it will also help influence other potential customers.

I always try to leave reviews and feedback to sellers I have bought from, or shopped with. Points I tend to make involve the seller directly and their customer service (if I can catch a name of the employee serving me I will include it in the review so they get extra kudos), the atmosphere of the shop, the products they have in stock and on display etc.

I tend to only leave positive reviews (in fact, I can't actually remember a time where I have left a negative review for an independent) and will continue to do so unless the service is so awful and to the point of no-return. If there are any problems - why not give the independent a direct message or pop in and speak to someone? 

With these smaller stores it is so important to try resolve an issue before negatively rating them as these people rely more on local business and word of mouth as they don't have the same big marketing budgets as big companies. Of course; if the service and product is shocking enough beyond repair - don't let me stop you from the negative review; it was just a point to consider!

Utilise schemes.

I'm sure we have all heard of the governments 'Eat Out To Help Out' scheme that occurring during August; and I've seen many tweets and posts about how cheap McDonalds, or Nando's food prices are but why not use your money to support your local independents who are also using the scheme? Big corporations will be thriving at times like these as most people will be utilising these discounts but the smaller independents need your help too.

By utilising schemes that are readily available to you; whether it be government created or a unique deal that the business runs on set days - you are helping them survive. One of my local restaurants does a 'Wine and Dine' night on a Tuesday; the night that was previously one of their quietest but through running their discount deal it gains them business where they hadn't before, and gives you the chance to explore their products and foods at a cheaper price. It's a win win!

Where you can; spend your money wisely in supporting those businesses who you would feel sad, or at a loss if they disappeared. I'm sure you know the ones I'm on about - those lovely little shops that you feel make up your town and the ones 'you've been meaning to go to for ages'. If they disappear; you will feel the loss so support their services whilst you can. 

What are some ways that you will support your local highstreet and independents?

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