I’ve been a supporter of the ‘Just a Card’ campaign since hearing about it on Twitter a little while ago. The idea is to spread the word that even the smallest of purchases matter hugely to small businesses. Whether it be a card, badge or other item that only cost a few pounds, those few pounds from everyone who walks in the door can be the difference from a shop staying open and closing forever.
Supporting of small shops is very close to my heart having built up and lost my own alternative gift shop in a very short space of time. The frustrating thing is I had a group of regular, really enthusiastic customers that completely loved what I was doing, but they didn’t act or spread the word quick enough.
A good few years on with the power of social media it’s so much easier to get the word out about great products and businesses, and, crucially, free. So if you love a shop, designer or even your local butcher, baker or candlestick maker – tell everyone and use them. Often! It might be easier for businesses to reach their customer than when I was doing it but with ever growing rent, rates and a billion other costs being thrown at them it’s tougher than ever. My partner now has a high street print and IT shop so once again, our household relies on two small businesses to keep ticking over. Will we ever learn? No. Because we love what we do.
I design and make my jewellery from my home studio and sell through a cooperative gallery, The Art Shed, online through Etsy and also through a handful of the most wonderful quirky independent shops and galleries run by amazing people. The prompt for this post came when I learned this week that one former stockist had recently closed it’s doors and another has been forced to close at the end of the month. This makes me truly sad. It makes me want to go into my local Tesco superstore and march all those people in that greeting card aisle out and down the road to their nearest independent instead!
Being part of a cooperative, I get the best of both worlds. It’s like having a little bit of my own shop again as well as an outlet to sell my work. We sell items costing £1 and items costing £1000. Sometimes I think people feel embarrassed spending just a pound or two but if I told you that some days, gift shops get through that day ONLY selling cards then you see the importance. I want to give every single customer a little hug, but don’t because that would surely guarantee I’d never see them again.
And to prove this isn’t just for personal plugs, here are a few small businesses I have absolutely no affiliation with, but I’d be pretty devastated if they ceased to exist:
Pug and Puffin, Lyme Regis : Funky dog stuff
Juju, Brighton : Amazing quirky clothing
Sophie’s Chocolates, Chesham : Chocolate only for people called Sophie(!)
The Dough Shack, various locations : THE best pizza
Khao Sarn, Walton on Thames : THE best Thai
The Simon Drew Gallery, Dartmouth : My favourite illustrator, with the best puns
Pixxie Rose on Etsy : Handmade clothing in insane fabrics
RichardsonRichardson on Etsy : Acrylic jewellery (my best friend and I want about 70% of their collection between us)
Littlehampton Exotics : Great reptile shop, of which so many have closed in the last few years
Pampered Pets, Hersham : Where my mutt gets his hair chopped.