Every July Independent retail month comes around and, we really think that it’s worth discussing, celebrating and getting thoroughly behind not just because we, FINDRA, are most definitely an independent retailer but because we love the feeling that independent retailers bring to a high street, the buzz they bring to a town and the totally different type of service you receive from an independent rather than a big chain store.
Don’t get us wrong, we know that the convenience of big brand stores is unbeatable, they have the choices, the prices and the customer service is impeccable, if perhaps a little bland at times. It’s just that independent retailers bring something a little extra to the mix. We are so lucky in our small village of Innerleithen and nearby Peebles to be surrounded by small independent retailers, each one of them has added another layer of character to the village. Our newsagents/Ice cream shop, Caldwell’s, attracts people from far afield for their award-winning Ice cream, Robert Smail’s print works carry on 150 years of history by still printing and selling their own merchandise and the ‘Allotment’ fruit and veg shop (and soon to be post office) offers the chance to buy fresh and not packaged-to-the-hilt veg. Many more gift shops, art galleries, cafes, bakeries, butchers and barbershops line the high street and bring character the likes of which Spar and Costa coffee just can’t deliver. If you want a chat while your cappuccino is being frothed, you’ll be wanting to head to an independent cafe like our local ‘Number 1 Cafe’! All these independents have contributed to vibrant and interesting communities that people want to live in.
Supporting the Local Economy
The buzz of the independent isn’t just about the chat and being recognised by the staff when you go in for your lunchtime steak pie, Independent stores are also good for a town and the people who live there. For every £1 locally, around 50-70% of that money recirculates back into the local economy. For the same £1 spent out of town or online with big retailers, only 5p trickles back to the local community (ref). That’s because the local business owner will go out and spend that money in local restaurants and pubs, will buy property locally and that money will be recirculated rather than profits being sent to a head office somewhere in Slough.
Local businesses are more interested in giving back to the local community, their community. Hosting talks and events and donating to local charities, something that big business would have to check in with HQ to do. It’s also been shown that High streets populated with thriving independent businesses boost the prices of nearby homes, so shopping locally has an impact on your community to a much greater extent than just the butcher knowing what cut of meat you like.
Independence breeds imagination
If you’re looking for something a bit innovative, a bit quirky and like you’ve put some thought into its purchase, the independent Highstreet is the place to go. Buying a gift for that new baby or finding a piece of clothing that isn’t going to have you turning up looking like your mates is worth a trawl of the high street. Supporting those local designers and artisans not only brings something fresh to your home but supports innovation and fosters local talents.
Most of us are becoming more aware of the amount of single-use plastic that we’re chucking away, our pre-packaged vegetables are flown from Argentina before being clingfilmed into black plastic trays (did you know you can’t recycle black plastic?). Buying locally means we can do away with some of that unnecessary packaging, take your reusable bag and fill it up with seasonal veg, clothing that you know the origin of and sustainable gifts made individually down the road, not in a factory on foreign shores.
It’s all about you
Being independent, shop owners often have the time and the inclination to go the extra mile to help you out, they’re able to give advice and chat about where things come from. Ask your local veg shop how to cook a Jerusalem artichoke and you’re more likely to get some help than you would from the shelf-stackers at your local Tesco. The ability to be customer-centric is one of the great charms of the independent retailers and you’ll be rewarded, maybe with an extra lamb chop thrown in or just by feeling good about yourself.
Have some fun!
Shopping with independents is way more fun than going to an out of town precinct. You’ll find things you never knew that you wanted, you’ll enjoy the showmanship of shop owners who believe in their products and want to tell you about them. You’ll get the freshest veg and the tastiest cakes, there will be conversations and laughter along the way and you’ll get home, unpack your bags and realise that, shopping independent is a great way to spend your money, support the community and have a laugh along the way.
As an independent retailer FINDRA bring something to the vibrant Innerleithen and Stockbridge communities of which they’re a part. We’re always happy to chat about the products, how they’re made and what we wear them for. We love listening to feedback and trust us, we’re definitely put a lot back into the local community, largely through the coffee and cake purchases. 🙂