If you’re of a certain age, you’ll appreciate how the word ‘local’ has come full circle back into fashion and desirable. When I was growing up, I had some sense that local was the last thing I wanted. I was keen to escape what seemed to be a very boring place. Local pubs seemed miserable places where conversation stopped when someone new entered. And of course, if you’ve ever watched the darkly satirical comedy, The League of Gentlemen, the “local shop for local people” was definitely to be avoided. Local, at least for me, was associated with small-mindedness and inward looking. And that was the last thing I wanted to be.
Somewhere along the line, the connotations of local changed for me. Maybe I just got older and wiser, but I feel like local had a revival. Maybe the narrative of the 1980s and 90s that bigger equalled better just eventually wore a bit thin. Perhaps we finally appreciated if globalisation equals homogenisation, then everywhere just feels bland and boring. But something changed. Local is no longer associated with stale, parochial and provincial. Today’s local is dynamic and cosmopolitan. Today’s local is also inclusive. When I talk about how much I love Derby-shire, I mean a contemporary, multicultural, vibrant Derbyshire.
Highfield House Farm Shop
I’d also like to stress it’s not about being perfect or having unreasonably high standards. We still get a weekly ‘big shop’ from a supermarket, I often grab a branded coffee on the way to work and my husband makes very good use of the internet to shop, so we definitely aren’t ‘purists’ about this. But I do try to support local when I can. And I feel good about every single purchase.
Anyway, enough waffle! Let’s get down to the reasons why you should shop local when you can.
Good for the local economy: Shopping local creates jobs, keeps people in work and keeps businesses running. Local businesses tend to hire local people. Every pound spent in the local economy tends to circulate longer within it. A great example of a company who pride themselves on this is Alfreton based, Just Jigsaws. All their machine parts are manufactured in Alfreton, prints and corrugated cartons are manufactured in Derbyshire, all the timber is sourced in the Midlands and all their boxes are manufactured in nearby Leicester. So, buying one of their high-quality jigsaws doesn’t just support them but all of their local suppliers too.
Another great example is Shop Indie located on Vicar Lane. They stock a variety of locally made products by Chesterfield’s talented creatives such as Me & Thee, who featured on the front cover of S40 and S41 Local Magazines.
Environmentally friendly: Buying locally grown and made products is simply better for the environment. Let’s take fruit and vegetables. Seasonal, locally grown fruit and veg is infinitely better than anything that has travelled halfway across the world, likely packaged in single use plastic and sold in supermarkets. It’s a no brainer that it has less food miles. The same is true of dairy and meat. I love supporting our local milkman, knowing that the milk comes from nearby farms and that the glass bottles drastically reduce the waste we create. Highfield House Farm Shop located on Darley Road sells a fantastic variety of locally, grown and reared products.
Better service: A family run, local business instinctively just takes more pride in what they’re doing. Many of the local businesses I know pride themselves on getting to know their customers and that results in a friendlier, more personalised service. And if you’ve ever been caught in the vicious circle of computerised ‘customer service’ systems where you just go round and round pressing 1 for this and 2 for that, you’ll appreciate that sometimes it’s better to just to talk to an actual human being who knows what’s what!
Responsive and customer focused: My favourite local businesses have one thing in common, they’re responsive and customer focused. We’ve all heard the old adage about putting customers first, but how often do the big chains actually do this? I love how innovative many small businesses have been. I’m sure they’re all sick to the back teeth of having to ‘pivot’ this crazy year. But that’s what successful operations do. They flex and change to supply demand. Want to click and collect? Or get local delivery? If customers want to order via WhatsApp or an Instagram message and they can accommodate that, great! Everyone’s happy. Keep an eye out for Unhampered, a progressive new project, that facilities the ability to shop local from the comfort of your own home.
Better quality: When I think of the local shops I know and love, what they all have in common is the exceptionally good quality of the products they sell. Whether that’s the Highfield House Farm Shop with their fresh veg, Shop Indie with their locally made gifts or Libby’s Cafe on Chatsworth Road with their amazing sweet treats, you get what you pay for and I think it's worth paying for!
The Cafe at Libby's
Keeps our high streets interesting and vibrant: In my mind there is nothing more depressing than the homogenisation of British high streets. Who wants the same bland serving everywhere they go? I certainly don’t. I want to soak in the local character, and enjoy whatever’s great about that place, and then enjoy the difference when I go somewhere new. Chesterfield’s Chatsworth Road, Derby’s Saddler Gate and Dale Road in Matlock are just three excellent places for independent shops. Remember, use it or lose it!
Strengthens communities: Shopping locally helps forge strong, united communities. We’ve seen this first hand during the hardships of the last year. When the supermarkets struggled to cope with panic buying, local businesses rose to the challenge. Increasingly, communities might operate digitally, but those fundamental aspects of human interaction remain unchanged. People helping other people.
FB: @Derbyshire Lovely Local Indie