Yesterday my home town of Matlock was flooded, again! I am heartbroken for the businesses who have been damaged by the floods and wanted to share a few reasons why I think you need to support your local shops.
I absolutely love my hometown of Matlock and love to see people coming together in times of need. It’s often our small businesses that make that happen. The heart of our community.
Being a small business owner is a dream of so many, it really can give you the freedom we all crave in our lives, but it is far from easy.
The last two years of the pandemic has seen the end of so many small businesses who didn’t survive the crippling loss in business. Many without the support they needed to get through. Add in the increasing costs of gas and electricity. The huge demand for shopping online and then a flood and you wonder how any business can survive!
Running a small business is tough.
Despite it all, the difficulties are often still outweighed by the joy that comes from running your own business.
I am proud to run Coworking Corner, my small business in Matlock, it really is my baby. I care for it like a child, often working weekends or evening to make sure everything is just right for my customers in the week. It’s great to see it grow and develop and become a part of the Matlock community.
But, so many small businesses are only here because of the love, attention and countless hours of work put in by their owners. There comes a point where one person can’t keep the businesses alive. They say ‘it takes a village’ to raise a child and nothing could be truer for a business. We all need to love and support our small shops and businesses to keep them thriving.
I wanted to share a few reasons why and how you can support your local shops and businesses to ensure they are here in the months and years to come.
Whether you live in Matlock, another small town or even the big cities of London and Manchester, I urge you to shop local wherever you can and help keep our independent businesses alive.
Reasons to support your local shops in Matlock and Beyond
Here are a few reasons why supporting small businesses is about so much more than just lining an individuals pocket. They are vital for our communities!
To keep our high streets alive
Imagine a high street filled with only chain superstores. Imagine a high street with no shops at all. It’s heart-breaking to see empty shops on our streets and makes any visit to town less enjoyable.
Once each of those empty windows was a bustling busy business filled with cakes or books or trinkets for sale. We’re a nation of independent shops and I’d love to see that be here to stay.
Without our high streets there would be nowhere to nip for a last minute birthday present (you don’t have time to order online!). You’d be without a quick lunch when you only have time to nip out to grab a sandwich. There’d be no book shop to browse for your next read and nowhere to get a key cut when you’re in need of spare.
To support your local economy
There are many stats about the benefit of putting your money back into local businesses. Research shows that for every £10 you spend in a local shop, £50 will go back into the local economy. This is because the shop owners will likely but that money back into the community.
It has a cyclical effect and over time more and more money is spent in the local economy, consistently growing the local economy and helping your local area thrive.
To help create local, fun and interesting jobs
This is an obvious one, but if there are more local businesses there are more local jobs. And if there is one thing the pandemic has taught us, it’s that commuting sucks and we like working near home! Right?!
If we have more interesting jobs in our local area, we are more likely to attract more people to live here, thus growing the point above. It can also help more rural areas keep their young talent and not lose them to the big cities.
If there is a higher chance of small businesses thriving, we might find more young entrepreneurs starting their businesses near home too.
To support the environment
It goes without saying that if something is made locally and bought locally its environmental footprint is likely to be less. So many people order things online, that might be shipped from north to south or across the Atlantic thinking they are saving pennies, when often it could be bought just down the road.
The short term cost may be lower, but the long term cost for your town is almost always going to be higher.
Local businesses often really care about their local environment too. Often unlike the massive corporations who move into a town for cheap rent or labour without a care for the people around them. With small businesses it isn’t a ‘tick box’ exercise, it’s a genuine desire to love and support their local community.
There are so many more sustainability benefits to shopping local, such as less carbon emissions from your own travel too.
To improve the creativity and culture of our villages, towns and cities
Small independent shops and businesses bring so much creativity! Whether it’s bright colourful signs, creative festival windows or handmade goods. You don’t always get the same love and care from bigger business.
They are often the catalyst for local festivals and events, wanting to bring a vibrancy to the places people live and work.
In Matlock a group of local businesses and community groups set up Hello Matlock, with lots of plans for future events and creativity for the town.
To stop Billionaires getting richer!
If you buy all your things from Amazon, you are just lining Jeff Bezos’ pockets!
During the pandemic Bezos saw his wealth grow by 57% from $113 billion to $178 billion!
Do you know how much money even 1 billion is? It’s one thousand million!
Just let that sink in.
That one man can be so obscenely rich is beyond my comprehension and why we all make him richer every day is beyond me. The next time you want to buy a book, a shelf, a watch, a camera or any myriad of things sold on Amazon, think if it’s worth stopping and supporting a local shop instead.
It may cost you a little more, but small businesses simply can’t compete with the economies of scale corporates such as Amazon hold. The extra pounds and pence are worth it (if you can afford it) and know you are supporting local people, friends and places when you do.
To keep us social and improve our wellbeing
The pandemic has changed us and it will take some time for us to get back to where we were before. It has sped up the world of online shopping and made, I think, all of us a little more introverted.
I am not against online, it has helped many small businesses develop and grow who wouldn’t be able to afford a physical business. But I think there is a time and a place.
If we keep only shopping online,
or browsing a physical shop to later by it for a bit cheaper online,
We will soon kill our high streets and there will be no shops to browse.
For some people going to grab a coffee from the local coffee shop or visiting their local book shop each week for a new read can be one of their only interactions in an average week. Local shops know people by name, by face or by order.
It adds a personal touch to our shopping, it adds a smile to our day, can improve our wellbeing and it makes us feel part of a community.
All of this helps our wellbeing, whether it’s simply the act of getting out the house and having a reason to go out or that feeling of being known and cared for by others.
Our local shops do so much more for us than just sell us things. They really are the lifeblood of our community. I love my hometown of Matlock and I hope you love your hometown too.
If I have encouraged you to support your local shops, here are a few ideas for how you can do it!
How to support your local small shops and businesses
Supporting your local shop doesn’t have to all be about spending. There are lots of ways you can support your local businesses to help your community thrive.
Share a local business on social media
Sharing a local business on social media or with friends can go a long way. If you can’t afford to shop with a business or aren’t in need of anything right now then consider sharing a post of theirs.
Word of mouth is the best form of marketing, try and share a different local business each week. It only takes a few seconds and you never know who might be watching.
Set a local shopping rule for Christmas presents with family
Last year I did all my Christmas shopping in local businesses. It felt like a fun challenge. I visited local towns I hadn’t been to for years and enjoyed exploring new shops and finding unique gifts for family and friends.
You could make it a rule or challenge with your family that you will only buy gifts from independent businesses and Christmas markets.
It’s lots of fun and remember, every time you buy something from a local shop a real human does a little happy dance (in real life or in their heads) you won’t see Bezos doing that from his private jet when you buy from Amazon!
Make a day of food shopping
In the 50s we spent a third of our income on food, today it is way lower than that! Times were different then, women worked less, there were no supermarkets. It’s almost impossible to shop without visiting a supermarket these days, but that doesn’t mean we have to do all our food shopping there.
Make a day of it at the weekend and head out to get your meat for the butchers, your veg from the grocery store and even see if there is a zero waste store near you for pulses, flour, etc.
You could even treat yourself to brunch in a local cafe too.
Actively choose an independent shop over a chain
Chain shops are important too and make up a balanced high street, but sometimes it’s worth it if the option to shop small is there.
Can you get a coffee from the independent coffee shop instead of Costa? Or get your paracetamol from the local pharmacy rather than Boots?
Leave a Review
Small businesses love a positive review. I always forget to ask people from Coworking Corner, but when I have received a lovely positive review it honestly makes my day!
It can also help businesses appear higher in search and encourage others to visit too.
Look out for each other
Just like any other human, it’s not all about the money. Love, care, friendship, support and community are often far more important and why we do what we do. I know it’s why I set up Coworking Corner.
A friendly smile on a rainy (especially very rainy!) day, remembering their name and saying hello. A comment about how lovely their shop is and offering support when businesses might need it most. All of these can go a long way.
We all want to belong, and supporting local businesses and them in turn supporting you, can go a long way to building a happy, positive, vibrant local community.
I am absolutely devastated my home town of Matlock flooded again. My heart goes out to all the businesses and homes affected. But I know the local people and businesses of Matlock are made of tough stuff. We will come through this stronger!
If this post has made just one person spend an extra pound or two in a local shop then it was worth it.
Have I forgotten anything? Do tell me your reasons supporting your local shops or what you do to support your local community.