Small Business advocates encourage consumers to seek out smaller brands, indie boutiques and independent designer-makers, whether they’re shopping for their Christmas gifts or as an alternative to their high-street purchases. Smaller businesses can often be overlooked, and it’s easy to see why. Without the million-pound advertising budgets of big-name brands, we’re not always the obvious choice for shoppers who are being bombarded with options everywhere they look. But we are here, surviving and sometimes thriving, but only with the support of loyal customers.
You might have seen the ‘Just A Card’ initiative on social media last year. ‘Just A Card’ highlights how important your purchases are to small businesses. The initiative was started on Instagram after an independent gallery closed down, and commented that if every person who’d visited had bought just one card from the gift shop, they would have been able to stay open. It’s a tiny thing, but it shows how important your custom really is.
So, here’s seven very good reasons why, starting this weekend, you should shop small…
Your purchase boosts the economy
It’s true – spending with local or small businesses actually helps the UK economy more than if you buy from a bigger brand. Research from local authorities has shown that for every £1 spend with a small or medium-sized business, 63p stayed in the local economy, compared to 40p with a larger business. And buying from a physical shop in your local area can also help to make your home more valuable too – studies have shown that areas populated with thriving independent businesses are high in demand, and houses in areas with a prosperous town centre rise in price faster than in areas without these amenities.
Your purchase will definitely be different
Is there anything more frustrating than having something you love in your home, only to find that several of your friends have gone out and bought the same thing? It’s easily done when you’re all shopping from the same brands, but when you shop with small labels or indie boutiques, you’re far more likely to find something a little more quirky or rarer than high street alternatives. It’s a lovely way to fill your home with individual finds, or to buy someone a gift that you feel confident they won’t already have.
You’re supporting British entrepreneurs and artists
Every time you make a purchase from a small British brand, you’re helping those entrepreneurs, artists and designer-makers make a living. And if you choose to shop with a local artisan boutique, you’re also helping to foster the talents of the next generation of these makers and entrepreneurs. It’s a much more personal way to shop, meaning you have more say in what’s being sold through what you purchase – supply and demand is a huge part of small businesses, and they will actively seek out new products to satisfy what’s being purchased over and over again.
Shop with a small business and you’ll get a parcel that’s been lovingly wrapped, sometimes with a handwritten note, popped through your post box. You’ll get one-to-one conversation, either in person or, for online brands like us, over email – we’re happy to share our time and knowledge with you, our loyal customers. Our customers mean the world to us.
The quality is just as good, if not better
If anyone’s ever watched the BBC programme ‘Shop Well for Less’, then you’ll know how obsessed by big brands the British public can be. But it’s all advertising; just because a product has a recognisable name or memorable TV advert, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s better than one made by a small or independent brand. Often, small brands can secure higher quality items, as they’re buying or making them in smaller batches, and there’s personalised attention to detail that goes into every item to ensure that it’s the best it can be.
It’s often more eco-friendly
These days we’re all more aware of our environmental footprint. Smaller businesses often design, make and deliver their stock in a small geographical circle, meaning that items haven’t travelled halfway round the world and back again in lorries or cargo ships. Indie brands like KOHA can also spend more on eco-friendly packaging, as we’re purchasing in smaller batches than large-scale brands. For instance, our bamboo toothbrushes come in fully recyclable cardboard sleeves and we do our best to limit plastic usage at every step of our business, which is far eco-friendlier than buying your bamboo toothbrush from a supermarket or large-scale online retailer.
You’re making a real difference to someone’s life
You really are. When you buy from a small business, you’re making meaningful change to someone’s life. Often, many small businesses are sole traders who can’t afford a team of staff, so your money goes straight to them and helps them to heat their homes, put food on the tables and buy school uniforms or toys for their children. It’s no exaggeration to say that your purchases really do make a huge difference every day and we as a community are grateful for every single one.
Convinced? Then we urge you to take a step out of the ordinary this Saturday, and do your Christmas shopping with a small business near you, online or on your local high street.
Here’s a few of our favourites, local to us here in Edinburgh:
Cove, Portobello High Street – a gift boutique packed with lovely brands (including KOHA Beauty!)
Life Story, London Street – a beautiful homeware and stationery store
Bon Tot, St Stephen Street – boutique specialising in ethically-manufactured clothing for babies and children
Golden Hare Books, St Stephen Street – the most beautiful indie bookshop
Century General Store, Montrose Terrace – coffee shop and homeware store, selling practical homewares, prints and plants