Think of a massive online retailer and chances are you think of a logo; a letter, a colour scheme, a design.
Think of a small shop on your high street and you probably think of a face. The owner. The person who took a deep breath, stepped out and turned their passion – their dream – into their life’s work.
Every year, more stories surface about huge multinationals exploiting yet another loophole to skip out on tax in the UK. And yet, every year, (often despite our best intentions) we throw our hard earned money at them as Christmas descends, resorting to the easiest, the cheapest, the most obvious, over-advertised option. And every year we wonder why shops are closing on the high street, why people are going out of business, why our towns and villages are becoming soulless miniature carbon copies of huge, out-of-town shopping malls.
Well, here’s a chance to shop a bit differently. This Saturday 5 December is Small Business Saturday, and a chance to get down to your local high street and support those people trying to make their dreams pay their bills.
Let’s not beat about the bush, running a small business is tough. Cash-flow, recessions, the inexorable march of the housing market and even the weather all affect how well our business does, and that’s to say nothing of the multi nationals edging us out by selling everything at a loss just because they can.
But that’s not why you should buy stuff from small businesses. Not because we want to make more money. Not because times are tough and we need your help (although I’m sure in some cases that’s true, and isn’t it nice to help out?). No, we all made business plans, we all knew the risks. No, that’s not it at all.
You should buy from small businesses for two reasons – firstly, these people are your community. They are the ones making your high street what it is, taking that run down, empty shop and turning it into a baby-friendly bookshop, or pouring their love of good food and good coffee into a convenient location for you to nip out to and grab your Saturday morning wake up brew. Who wants a high street full of Costas, Tesco Metros and estate agents? Not me.
But mainly you should buy from small businesses because these people really care. This is their life, they decided to do this because they love it. It makes them tick. They really want to give you the richest cappuccino, the most delicious loaf of bread, the most beautiful bunch of flowers or the smoothest running bike. They want to because they get a kick out of it, and because their reputation is important.
Of course, there are franchise owners who care. There are big businesses who care. But when you can get the best service available, on your own doorstep, and support the men and women making your high street safe, interesting and diverse, while also supporting people in your own community, then…
…well. Bit of a no brainer really.
Small Business Saturday. Support your local high street this weekend.