Shop local. Shop independent. Shop small. Most people could reel off a few reasons for doing so. I would consider myself a socially conscious consumer and I always try to make choices that support smaller businesses. Like much of the London population I have lived in a fair number of corners of this wonderfully diverse city, but I haven’t ever stayed in one place long enough to consider the long and short-term impacts of shopping locally.
I grew up in Waltham Forest and witnessed the trend away from independent shops towards chains in the 90’s and 00’s. The greengrocer, cobbler and butcher have long gone from my home town of Highams Park, however I am very happy to be experiencing the shift back to local specialists that are peppering colour through our borough.
I currently live between the main shopping areas of Leyton and Leytonstone, and I’m excited to be starting a campaign to get local residents to know more about the benefits of shopping local.
The campaign is called ‘Leyton’s Own’ and I’m thrilled to have interviews lined up with some of our talented and passionate local business owners and their staff. The way we as consumers spend our money determines how companies, both large and small, go on to invest their money. Since becoming a mother I am more aware of the choices I make and what message these actions give to my child. Throughout this campaign I hope to get my fellow residents of Leyton and Leytonstone to invest a little more in our independent small businesses, and to consider the benefits of doing so.
The way we as consumers spend our money determines how companies, both large and small, go on to invest their money.
Shopping local brings many advantages, both to the consumer and to the local area. The most important benefits, as I see them, are given below:
- Expertise. Specialists know their craft and can give you better advice, which means a higher quality of service and superior products. They want to know and understand their customers on a more personal level than chains and general stores, making them an excellent addition to our communities.
- Making areas unique. You only have to look at the shop fronts and logos of independent businesses to experience the colour and texture they add to a local area. Their personal touch means that they will sell products based on the needs of the local residents, and they are more likely to offer unique choices to their customers, bringing about a less homogenous culture of consumption.
- Building communities. Local businesses support other local businesses. As a result they nurture creativity and entrepreneurial spirit so it comes as no surprise that once one specialist business sets up in a location, another will soon follow. They are firmly invested in the future of the community and seek opportunities to bring people together. Win win.
- Protecting the planet. Independent businesses are more likely to source products from the local area which means less travel, less packaging and a much smaller contribution to climate change. As you will see over the course of the campaign, many businesses go a long way to protecting the one planet that we have.
- Boosting local economies. As this article on The Guardian states, local authority studies found that a much higher proportion of the money spent in independent business stays in the local economy; 63p in comparison to 40p for larger businesses. Small businesses are also the UK’s largest employer and areas with a larger variety of independent shops are likely to experience higher house prices.
I hope that Leyton’s Own will help to further engage our community with the fountains of knowledge and talent that we have within it. I’ve already learnt so much more about our local businesses by just starting a discussion with them about this campaign. I would love to hear about the places that you support in Leyton and Leytonstone, and of course get to know more of our local faces and understand the passion they have for what they do.