Around 3 years ago I set up my own business – Cloverleaf – to provide Sales and Marketing services to other small businesses. I love that too.
Last year I helped to set up Studley in Business, a forum which enables businesses in our village to network and collaborate to improve our local economy. I’m now vice chair and self-appointed chief marketing bod. I also love doing this.
Studley in Business has allowed me the opportunity to get to know many of the retailers and service based businesses in my community, and I’m very lucky to now work with some of them.
Working so closely within my community has opened my eyes to the fantastic local businesses right on my doorstep, and it has completely changed my attitude towards where I spend my money.
We’ve all heard of various campaigns around the country to encourage us to shop locally but how many of us really do that when shopping malls, gargantuan supermarkets and that bloody internet makes it so convenient to do anything but?
Today’s fast-paced, one-click-and-it’s-yours, Amazon Primed, price-comparing society has flipped our traditional shopping habits upside down. These days, it feels as if nobody has the time or patience to wander along their local High Street. We cherish our free time and struggle to spare half an hour to get to know the lovely man or woman who runs the local shop down the road that sells all sort of interesting things.
Online shopping has made the purchasing process incredibly impersonal, we research the product we need ourselves and rarely think to ask a person who sells it every day what is the best type to go for – even though they’ll give you an honest and thoughtful reply based on many years of personal experience in their trade.
Now, I don’t work a typical 9-5 job anymore, but that doesn’t mean I’m any less busy than I was when I did. These days I juggle running a business and volunteering my time to various local projects with raising my children as a stay at home parent – I’m probably busier than I’ve ever been.
BUT, my general lifestyle has altered and the result is that I have found a whole new world of awesome shopping potential right under my nose – and if I can do that, I know others can too.
Don’t get me wrong, I still use supermarkets (I often shop online because trawling the aisles with 2 kids in tow ends up with me running a mad trolley dash like I’m playing Supermarket Sweep) but now I try to go to my local butcher a few times a month – even if it’s just for one or two things (my butcher makes fantastic sausages, which are a staple food in our house). I’ve also recently switched from buying dog food from a major chain as I found a great local supplier around the corner from me – he supplies all naturally based food and delivers it for free! He even weighs our dog to ensure she’s eating the right amount.
I’ve stopped buying expensive cards from Clintons and flowers from supermarkets, instead I visit the amazing florist who sells both of these and is right across the road from me. I buy my bread from the local bakery and recently we sold our house with the High Street estate agent based in our village (their service has been excellent).
I don’t limit my local purchases to Studley either – my coffee addiction is fed by the most amazing family business near Stratford. I actually discovered them years ago through a local business networking group on Twitter and now I’m addicted to their beans – and their wonderful customer service too – I’m lucky to get to call them my friends – and you can’t say that about Mr Nespresso can you?
This blog post isn’t a rant or written to preach but I think it’s so important for us to try and support our local economy – especially now when the world feels a little bit grumpy and angry at itself, and the economy often feels bit wobbly.
I say, let’s embrace the businesses around us and get to know the people who run them! It’s ENJOYABLE to go into a shop and have a chat with the people there. If you choose to live in a community like Studley, why wouldn’t you want to help it to thrive and immerse yourself in the place you live?
There’s enough of us in the world to spread our pounds around a bit more. There will always be a need for the convenience of larger chains, but we definitely have space for the smaller businesses too.
All this got me thinking about how we could encourage more people to buy locally, and I came up with the #IBuyLocal Challenge.
All you need to do is buy at least one thing from a local business each week. Just one item from one business. That’s so easy, it’s barely even a challenge. And I’m willing to bet that after you’ve achieved one item, it wouldn’t be so hard to go for two or three.
I guarantee you will find a gem of a business right under your nose that you never even knew existed.
So let’s make this official! Here’s my #IBuyLocal challenge:
1. Buy one thing locally this week.
2. Leave a comment on my blog thread telling us what you bought and where you bought it, and tag it with the hashtag #IBuyLocal so we can share our finds and create some extra promotion for our local businesses too.
3. Share the news on your own Facebook, Twitter or Instagram with the #IBuyLocal tag so we can spread the word even further.
I think that sounds easy enough, don’t you?
So, who’s with me?