I was brought up to value the independent seller over the supermarket. My mum shunned plastic bags and used a ‘bag for life’ before they were even called that. Bags in hand, each Saturday we’d traipse along our local town and visit the butcher, the green grocer, we didn’t have much money but my mum wanted to support them rather than the highstreet – don’t get me wrong though, she’d still have her eye on a bargain and negotiate the price! As the daughter of a shop owner she knew it was people like her that kept these businesses alive.
Over the past couple of weeks I’ve seen some lovely online independent clothing stores close their doors. It’s getting harder and harder for independents to stay affloat, importing from Europe has become a costing nightmare and competing with cut throat highsteet stores that rip off independent brand designs and reproduce them in bigger volumes at a lower quality meaning they can massive undercut independents has left so many brands and stores in the dust. Don’t get me wrong I shop in big stores both online and on the highstreet, and have been putting my money in the hands of big corporations more and more. It’s often cheaper and more convenient to pick up something in a shop or Amazon Prime that thing you ‘need’ to arrive the next day. We all have budgets to stick to and buying some bespoke rather than mass produced off the shelf is becoming more and more of a luxury. This is something that as an indie business owner myself I am acutely aware of and it’s showing in a massive drop of traffic and orders to my own shop. As a accessories retailer I can’t compete with the likes of H&M and Claires on price and convenience. This has got me thinking, and I want to share with you little ways you can help support small businesses no matter your budget.
Have you got friends that run indie businesses?
I would imagine that everyone reading this can think of someone in their friendship group that has an indie business, whether they own small highstreet shop, are a freelance illustrator or Etsy shop owner. Why not think of ways you can promote them and support their venture. If you can’t afford their products or they offer a service or something not relevant to you then maybe you could share their facebook page on your timeline to help them reach potential customers. Or if you’re on twitter or another form of social media then do a shout out. Or simply ask how their business is and if there’s anything you can do to support them. I love it when my customers share their purchases on social media and tag my store in it or a family member shares my facebook page to their timeline. These little things all help get my business a wider audience and hopefully more customers.
Looking for a gift for a friend?
Before you jump on Amazon or visit your highstreet have a look for a smaller seller, to make it easier you can look via Etsy or Not On The Highstreet. If you really dislike online shopping and prefer to see something in ‘real life’ before buying it then look for independent gift shops in your area, ask around, there is bound to be one you can support. Spend some time one evening searching online and finding some independents. If you’re still not sure where to start then I’m more than happy to recommend shops if you’re stuck, just give me a shout on social media or leave a comment. Take a look at my Start Up Stories for some inspiration too!
Visit markets and craft fairs
There is a growing trend of craft fairs and markets springing up, whether it’s selling vintage, nearly new, or hand made products there are so many more events happening now. Ask around, have a search on facebook and then pop down and see what’s on offer.
Think quality over quantity
It’s so tempting to go on fast fashion shopping sprees and buy a load of clothes that we will probably only wear once because hey, they didn’t cost much, so it doesn’t matter. Don’t get me wrong, I’m talking to myself here as well. Fast fashion has become such a norm in our society that we don’t even realise how much it permeates our choices and how we spend our money. I’m trying more and more to buy less throwaway clothes / homeware and instead think whether we really need it. It’s a steep learning curve but I think a necessary one, not only for supporting small businesses but for the environment as well as ethically.
Of course all our purchases can’t be via independent sellers, especially if we’re on a tight budget, but even on a restrictive budget there are things we can do to shop small and support indie businesses. Hopefully in reading this post you’ll be inspired to support makers and and creatives in a way that works for you. And don’t forget often when you buy from or support a small business you are helping an individual provide for their families and not just lining the pockets of share holders and big corporations. When people buy from me or invest in my blog they help pay for things like my daughter’s ballet lessons.