Some of you may think that it’s a little late for me to point out that July 2015 is Independent Retailer Month, to which I say the following:

  1. Chill out, there’s still another ten days to make the most of it.
  2. Take it as an opportunity to go out and discover as many small shops as possible in the allotted time.
  3. The first three weeks of July were a bit of a blur, sorry.

This month-long celebration is something that I already practice on a regular basis, but it’s always good to be given a kick up the bum. Whilst I’ll use a local florist for gift bouquets, I get most of my daily shopping from the Sainsbury’s on the corner of my street (for anyone not in the UK, it’s a national supermarket chain). I may visit the city’s burgeoning pie shop for the occasional hot meal, but far too often I’ll use McDonald’s when I’m feeling lazy. So although I do try to support independent retailers financially and by raising awareness via word of mouth and social media, I could definitely increase the frequency that I purchase from them. It’s not necessarily a case of buying more, it’s simply shifting the ratio so that it’s more in favour of small businesses, privately owned eateries and coffee shops, self-employed tradesmen and consultants, and independent online stores.

Having said that, I’m not the type of person to say that Tesco or Walmart (or whatever your country’s big name retailer is) should be boycotted. It’s easy to think that all large corporations and multinationals are corrupt, but in the end they do employ a hell of a lot of local people and often do a lot for charity. Plus if all of the huge firms closed down overnight, it wouldn’t be long before some of the independent retailers seized the opportunity and grew a monopolising commercial entity of their own. This is just my point of view and you have every right to argue against it, but it’s also coming from someone who worked in a supermarket, a large call centre and a national book chain in order to fund his university degree. It was also these big businesses that provided me the experience, work history and regular income required to move forward in my field and eventually go freelance.

If I were to give some advice, I’d recommend that you support small business owners more often and find a balance that suits you. Even if it’s committing to purchasing one range of items, such as hardware or vegetables, solely from small retailers alongside your usual buying habits, your custom will make a world of difference to them, their families, the community and your town/city as a whole.

I’d love to hear about your favourite independent retailer, so please do tweet info and photos to @sobananapenguin. To get the ball rolling, here’s my shout-out to Go Dutch Pancake House in Hull City Centre.


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