LIFE & LIVING
Jade Soanes looks at some important reasons why we should all buy local
It might sometimes be necessary to buy online or from a larger chain retailer, but really, doesn’t it all feel a bit… soulless? Take the independent shops and producers out of your closest village or town and you’re likely taking all of that area’s charm and character with them. We are lucky to have a veritable bounty of local suppliers of all manner of goods here in Norfolk and Suffolk – here’s why we should be taking advantage of them.
6 reasons to shop local
It boosts the local economy
When local business does well, it’s not just the community and its economy that benefits, but often the area’s tourism too. Visitors are drawn to the quirkiness and authenticity that independent businesses offer, which makes our high streets attractive places to visit and in turn, spend money in. This is good news for homeowners, as research has found that high streets populated with thriving independent businesses boost the prices of nearby houses. When you spend with a local business, it also means more money will circulate and stay within your local economy – as the shop owners themselves will put your money back into nearby pubs, restaurants and other suppliers.
Creates jobs and supports entrepreneurs
Investing in local products and services means you’ll have a positive effect on the amount of secure jobs in your area. This not only impacts the amount of people having to travel further afield for employment, but those employees’ pay packets – independent employers are reportedly more likely to pay a fair wage and treat their staff well. Buying local also helps to support our area’s entrepreneurs and encourages the next generation of movers and shakers to make a go of it with their own innovative ideas.
It’s kinder to the environment
Browse your local greengrocers and you’ll find that the majority of the produce is in season and was grown in nearby fields, massively reducing the food’s farm-to-fork journey. This makes for tastier, more nutritious fayre and gains you lots of eco brownie points. Buying products that were made within the county obviously means they haven’t had to fly round the world to get to your doorstep, and are likely packaged as such – minus the layers of protective and problematic plastic. On a smaller but equally as important level, buying within your local town as oppose to a far-off city can also mean less travel and emissions for you – win, win!
Superior customer service
Good customer service is essential to every business, but when you buy local it’s likely there will be much more of a personal touch; especially when a shop owner knows everyone in the neighbourhood by name. Building a rapport and even a friendship with your town’s suppliers results in personal recommendations, the opportunity to try before you buy, and a whole host of other perks. Independent retailers can use their discretion to reward repeat custom, meaning you could find yourself with a discount or a few extras thrown in for free – at the very least, your local café will soon know your signature breakfast order without you even having to ask for it!
More diverse shopping choices
Why buy the same coat/handbag/earrings/artwork that can be found at every chain store in the country, when you could purchase something that stands out in a crowd? Independent businesses are a welcome breath of individuality and originality amongst all the more generic products and give you the opportunity to express your true tastes. It’s also worth noting that at local shops, a customer’s opinion or request will matter more than the latest trends – if there’s something you’d like them to stock, they’re likely to listen and try to source it for you.
Leads to better community spirit and investment
It’s no surprise that business owners who live in the same area they work are more likely to stay long-term and be more invested in their community’s wellbeing and future. Local business also tends to bolster community spirit and engagement by hosting events – an independent bookshop might host children’s reading groups, a craft shop may put on weekly ‘knit and natter’ hours, the village eco shop might arrange monthly beach clean-ups – all these things are vital to the characters of our rural towns and villages, and helps us to stay connected.
What Norfolk and Suffolk does best Food & drink
If there’s just one reason to feel lucky for living here, it should be for the sheer amount of fantastic independent food and drink producers, all of whom take full advantage of East Anglia’s bountiful land and sea to provide us with so many delectable goods, you could easily never have to eat or drink the same thing twice (although obviously you will, because it’s delicious!). From the famous Cromer crab at Cley Smokehouse to the legendary sausages at W J Seppings butchers; the renowned ales of St Peter’s Brewery to The Tiny Tipple Company’s quaffable small batch gins – you won’t find better gems anywhere else.
Arts & crafts
Yet another example of things we do well in East Anglia is arts and crafts. There are countless galleries and pottery shops dotted around which celebrate the creative talents of our locals, such as Dersingham Pottery and Gallery and Riverside Art and Glass. Whether it’s a painting of a coastal scene, a carefully blown glass vase or a dainty porcelain teacup, the treasure trove of items found in these galleries adds personality to your home and are always evocative of the area in which they were made. Additionally, many of these independent spaces offer classes, exhibitions and talks so you’re able to find out more about individual artists and their work.
Spend the day in Norfolk’s only city, Norwich, and you’re likely to come across many more independent shops than chain retailers – including Jarrold’s, the renowned family-run department store that has been operating since the 1700s. A favourite among visitors and locals alike is the Lanes, a closely linked series of cobbled streets and roads where independent boutique clothing stores, toy shops, beauty salons, cafes and restaurants rub shoulders. For drinks in a quirky setting, choose The Bicycle Shop or Frank’s Bar; for presents head to Lisa Angel or the aptly named Norwich Gift Emporium; and if you want to watch a film, Cinema City – Norwich’s independent arthouse cinema – has your entertainment needs covered.
Why I buy local
Jade says: “For me, buying local is so much more enjoyable because of the feel-good factor – you know you’ve helped out a business that deserves it and you’ve probably got something unique in the process. One of my favourite ‘buying local’ experiences was getting my engagement ring, wedding ring and then – as a result of their good service – my wedding earrings and a Mother’s Day gift from Tilletts Jewellers in Norwich. Dion and Lorraine are always so helpful and they remember us each time we go back. We were told to go to Tilletts by our brother-in-law, and have subsequently advised others to use them too, so it’s almost like our own family jeweller. You just don’t get that personal experience shopping at a larger chain.”