6 Reasons to Shop Independent, Shop Local & Shop Small
Many of us, including myself, are actively looking to support independent and small businesses over the retail giants. Online sites such as Etsy, Not on the High Street and other platforms selling goods from small businesses are helping lure shoppers away from the giants. Amazon, which was always the enemy of small e-commerce companies, has now become a channel for them to reach consumers through its Marketplace. Long may this trend continue!
Small, independent and local retailers play an important role in the communities they serve, the local economy they contribute to, and in the retail sector as a whole. There is the emergence of a real David versus Goliath story within the retail industry, which consumers are clearly getting behind. Independents offer a niche product set, a more personalised experience and crucially, can adapt quickly to the changing needs and situations of a consumer.
If you do not already make an effort to shop independent, shop local and shop small, here are 6 reasons why you should.
1. You are supporting entrepreneurs
When you buy from an independent brand or local independent shop, you are supporting an entrepreneur who decided to take a risk. They’ve taken a risk and have stepped outside the box. These entrepreneurs are the hotbeds of innovation.
You are also encouraging the sense of community spirit, and are helping to build it. Many of these entrepreneurs are likely to recognise this and give back to the local community, perhaps even supporting or participating in local fund-raising events. These entrepreneurs will also spend any money earnt in their local community, thereby putting money back in through that as well.
2. Independents give you a choice
Let’s face it, without small businesses, we would be slaves to the big brands. Independents struggle (a lot) without economies of scale, but they manage to do it. Keeping independents alive means more options for future shoppers through a wider choice, as well as a better chance of success for other small businesses.
Please don’t get me wrong. I’m not anti these big brands. I, as much as anyone else, look forward to the annual Christmas adverts being released every November (Elton, piano…). The vast budgets they have ensure we all have a good cry and say “awwwww.”
3. The range of brands on offer is endless
Shopping independently is your opportunity to come across some fresh, undiscovered brands that are not necessarily available at your typical high street retailer. Or, there could be designs available from more established brands that have not been selected by the high street buyers. Many start-up brands rely heavily on independent sales as a way to build their network. Organisations such as Not On The High Street and Amazon (amongst others) have thrived by giving independents the opportunity to use them as a channel to reach out to consumers.
4. You receive a friendly and personalised service
The big brands don’t necessarily care what you think (apologies to those who do)… but your local shop, independent boutique and independent brand does care. The great thing about supporting these independent and small businesses is that you have a voice, and your opinion matters. Decisions made to stock items are based around the market need, customer demands and expressionism. Small business allows for connection, for engagement, a more personalised and friendly experience. After all, isn’t that what retail is all about? The service of the “good old days”?
Some retail owners will go as far as writing a personal note on their receipt to sincerely thank you for your custom. Others may hand wrap your purchases in tissue paper with a gift bag at no extra charge, which is substantially more personal than a 5p carrier bag. Linen Quarter tries to go the extra mile to thank our customers for their purchases by including packaging inserts, which we know our customers are amused by and appreciate.
5. Most independent businesses are run by people, not by Boards, stockholders and algorithms
This personal approach by independent businesses, with a face and personality behind them, results in a different kind of care and quality in the products offered and customer experience provided. The products for sale are a reflection of the independent business owners themselves. Instead of focusing on the next market they are expanding into or the next round of funding they’re raising, they are focusing on the details and being the best they can possibly be. There’s a given that you need to have originality and variety in a world that’s becoming increasingly homogenized.
Independent businesses, whether a small and/or local, provide the feeling that a real person is behind it all. There’s someone who cares more about giving you a quality product or service, over just taking your hard-earned cash. They’re authentic, original and they genuinely care.
6. Your purchase goes beyond the cash register
High street purchases end up in the same, bottomless corporate bank account. Unfortunately, your transaction, although significant to you, is just another miniscule percentage of their overall revenue. There’s a tendency for the larger retailers to treat you as a number, rather than the valued customer you are. You could spend the same amount of money with an independent brand (whether in person or online) and your purchase is guaranteed to be a more significant part of their monthly intake. Your order will probably result in them doing what I call our “happy dance”.
North Kingston Mums in Business Christmas Market, Friday 23 November 2018
I’m involved with a wonderful group of mums in my local area – North Kingston Mums in Business. We are holding our North Kingston Mums in Business Christmas Market on Friday 23 November from 10am to 2pm in the Queens Head, on Richmond Road in Kingston upon Thames. Details can be seen below. There will be an exciting range of products available for sale from local mums, ranging from Linen Quarter’s organic cotton bed linen to organic skincare products, artisan beers, beautiful candles, home made cards and crafts, plants, jewellery and artwork. It’s a great opportunity to bring the local community together and support local entrepreneurs.
Will you Shop Independent, Shop Small, Shop Local?
Will you be doing this? There is a real drive for people to support small independent businesses and local businesses at the moment, especially in the run up to the festive period. This is exciting for indies such as us! I’m certainly going to be trying to do as much as I can of this in the run up to the festive period. It will be a resolution for 2019 onwards as well. I’ll be starting my Christmas shopping (yes – starting – I know some of you might have finished already) next Friday at the North Kingston Mums in Business Christmas Market. You can come along and meet me and some other wonderful local businesses there.
Thanks for reading.