The Lockdown Treasure Hunt
'Non essential' shops in the UK are closing again for a month (at time of writing) - not only that, but this time it's not a sunny Spring month this time but November - the busiest month of the year for most and the one that pays the bills for the slower months.
I don't understand why, when small shops have so many measures in place to keep people safe they are included in this 'soft' lockdown while supermarkets, for example, remain open. It shouldn't make a difference what they are selling. But I'll stop there. It's easy to get wrapped up in whatever feelings the government measures stir up but it's far more important to concentrate on the power we have as individuals. So much has been stressed about how much damage one individual can do in a pandemic - but I want to focus on the more positive side - whether it be as simple as giving someone room, washing your hands or properly thinking about where you spend your money.
The latter is so powerful and can not only be a small vote for how you want the world to be but can make a big difference to another person right there and then. Even something small like using an independent coffee shop rather than a chain, or popping out to get that pint of milk from a small shop rather than the supermarket. Supporting independent business isn't about buying extra things, it's about thinking about where the money goes every time you spend.
It's easy to pop in and shop in an independent when you're walking around a town but if Christmas shopping is going to be done more online this year than ever are those independent sales simply going to convert to virtual ones?
How do you shop online?
Where do you start?
The problem is people shop differently online. We suddenly have a world to pick from and unless we are searching for something incredibly niche and bonkers (which buy the way, there will definitely be a small business out there catering for) chances are google searching will bring up the big names first.
My challenge this year, is to encourage you look a little deeper than the first page of google. Find websites with real treasure. Independents like their online presence to reflect their real shops, so think beautifully selected stock, well categorised and a pleasure to browse - no wading through loads of things you're never going to buy. Buyers for independent shops know their customers - what they like, their values, how much they want to spend and what they're interested in. Then they stock products that tick all those boxes, so once you've found them, much less googling required!
But how do you find these independents online?
Here are some tips:
- Think about the physical shops you like to visit and see if they have a website or shoppable social media page.
- Look around at the stuff you already have and love. Look up the brand's list of stockists.
- Social media browsing (cynical me says it's geared towards collecting data and selling us stuff so naturally it's a good place to start.) Search hashtags like #shopsmall and #indiebiz. Look at indie champions like @justacard or browse location based posts on Instagram and look at local Facebook groups.
- Marketplaces for independent sellers: Etsy, Not on the High Street and Folksy are the big ones but there are many more curated ones around like Kraftspace and The British Craft House.
- Usually at the Christmas markets? Many have online shops, or links to previous sellers on their websites.
- Think about what is important to you and do very detailed searches for example: gift for animal lovers + sustainable + uk + handmade
- Press. There are loads of gift guides in magazines, newspapers and online publications and this year they are loving finding indie treasures too (hooray!)
- You're here, so how did you find me? Let me know, I may have missed a great tip!
I hope you find some beautiful treasure and wonderful gifts. Let me know what you've found in the comments.
Thanks for reading and shopping thoughtfully.