Easy ways to support independent businesses this Christmas

I know I’m not the only making more of an effort this year to support local & independent businesses.  It’s been a tough year for lots of people, including small business so I’m doing as much as I can to support them especially when choosing Christmas gifts.

Visit a craft market

At our on-site pub, The Sweffling White Horse, we’re hosting an online Christmas market.  We had aimed to host this in person but  tier 2 restrictions mean this is no longer possible.

Other Christmas markets may still be happening, though plans and restrictions are changing frequently so keep an eye out for the latest news in your area.

This year online Christmas markets are necessarily popular too – check out Facebook & Instagram as a starting place to find groups & events you may be interested in.

Shop online…..but independently!

Doing your Christmas shopping online doesn’t have to mean spending your money with big corporate companies.  You can enjoy the ease of online shopping whilst making a difference for a real person with a real family to support.

I’ve also compiled a list of independent businesses to buy your Christmas presents from – they would love support this year so check out the list here and consider purchasing gifts & decorations from one of these talented crafters.

Additionally some of my favourite independent online retailers are listed below:

  • https://store.cat.org.uk/
    The Centre for Alternative Technology is based in Wales. Their mission is to inspire, inform and enable people to achieve practical solutions for sustainability .They  offer day and short residential courses covering a range of sustainability issues, including: renewable energy, environmentally friendly building techniques, ecology, woodland management, organic gardening and more. Their online gift shop has an amazing range of eco gift ideas from stocking fillers to a bird box with infra red camera
  • https://www.gringofairtrade.com/
    One of my favourite clothing brands (have a peek at their amazing trousers) – this fairtrade shop sells a whole range of lovely things. Lots of bright colours, suncatchers, and lots of practical yet beautiful items. And these Nepalese blankets are the warmest blanket you will ever find: https://www.gringofairtrade.com/gringo/purple-striped-blanket.aspx
  • https://www.thesolarcentre.co.uk/
    We buy a lot of our solar powered lighting from this UK based company. They aren’t necessarily the cheapest – but they are tried and tested quality.
  • https://shop.britishhedgehogs.org.uk/
    A lot of wildlife charities have online shops selling gifts to support the charity. Most of the BHPS’s products are hedgehog-related (their hedgehog house is state of the art!) but some of the other animal charities sell a broader range of goods & treats.
  • https://www.wildlifetrusts.org/shop
    The Wildlife Trust have been saving wildlife and wild places for more than a century, and helping people to get closer to nature. They look after more than 2,300 nature reserves. They have some really lovely T-shirts and tote bags, as well as a range of other gifts.
  • https://bambooclothing.co.uk/welcome-to-bam/
    Bamboo clothing is extremely comfortable, soft and temperature controlling. Bamboo is a very environmentally friendly fabric – it needs no pesticides and as a fabric it stays fresh for longer, therefore requiring less washing. BAM as a business not only utilise this sustaibable product, but also sell it in sustainable packaging and as a whole are ‘carbon positive’ –  meaning they haven’t just offset the carbon emissions for our business but for every process involved in the lifecycle of our clothes. This means covering the emissions from bamboo farming and fibre production and also the impact of you, our customer laundering your clothes 50 times. We can thoroughly recommend their socks, pants and exercise gear.
  • https://shop1.camra.org.uk/have-a-joyful-christmas-with-camra/
    CAMRA (the Campaign for Real Ale) an independent voluntary consumer organisation which promotes real ale, real cider, real perry and traditional British pubs and clubs – helping to keep this important part of our heritage alive. If you have a beer lover in your family check out their online shop where they sell a wide range of beer-related books, lovely CAMRA hat & scarf sets, or even a gift membership. By shopping with them you’ll be helping to save an industry that has been really struggling this year. The British Beer & Pub Association has warned that up to 40% of Britain’s pubs may not survive this pandemic – so the more we can do to support pubs the better
  • Dial Lane Books are great & will ship orders all over the country.
  • Last but not least… if you have a favourite shop but can’t get there in person, why not give them a call and see if they will do mail order?  Most will have the facility to take payment online or over the phone, and will be grateful that you’re shopping with them (rather than one of the big online sales platforms) and therefore be happy to post items. You may have to pay a little extra for postage – but it shouldn’t be too much

Be a social media cheer-leader

The great news is that you don’t even have to spend any money to support your favourite independent businesses!  Obviously sales is the ulitmate goal for anyone running their own business but if cash is tight there are ways you can show your support (and even put money in their pockets) without having to spend a penny!

Most businesses, makers and crafters will have a social media presence so show your support by liking, sharing, saving and commenting on their posts.  Even just these actions alone pushes them up the rankings in the social media algorithms and means their posts are more likely to be seen by even more people.  On top of this; if you have 100 followers; that’s 100 more chances that your favoured businesses will make a sale. Especially with a ringing endorsement from you – people are much more likely to try something new if someone they trust has recommended it…..so get sharing!

Leave reviews

Most retailers will have a way of leaving feedback or reviews.  I guarantee that all feedback is valuable a business, even a negative review, if done sympathetically can help them to pinpoint ways to make the customer experience better.  But one thing all business owners will tell you is that people are much more forthcoming with their criticisms than they are with their praise!  But a positive review is valuable not only because it will make their day, but because it gives them content to share with their followers, it helps other potential customers make a good choice & can boost their ratings on sites like Google Business or Trip Advisor.