I’ve set myself a little challenge. To have an independent Christmas! The excitement we feel within our own business when orders roll in, is extraordinary. The satisfaction we get from knowing we make and produce the food that will make a families Christmas complete is immense. The pride we feel that people trust us with the most important family occasion of the year is humbling.
One hundred percent of our own Christmas meal comes from ingredients we sell in our own shop, as does our tree and wreath! We sit around beaming on Christmas Day, knowing how delicious our food was, and how beatiful our tree looks, happily satisfied that we have given our all to make the Christmas of others special. As for the customers that have choosen to trust a business like us with their food, they have my utmost respect. They could have found something cheaper, they could have stuck a few extra bits in their supermarket trolley to save an extra trip, they could have bought something frozen a month ago to save the hassle of shopping near Christmas at all. But they didn’t. They chose to use a small business, one that puts quality top and has pride in their work, even if it’s more effort, even if it’s more expensive. They chose to use a business that truely cares about customers, that gets excited by their custom. But most importantly they chose to keep their money in the local economy. These customers keep small business thriving, growing and then hiring even more local people!
So why on earth do I do the rest of my shopping for Christmas with the likes of Argos, Mothercare and other huge concerns that sell the same old generic plastic rubbish?! This year I have decided to put my money where my mouth is and do ALL my shopping with independent businesses.
When I first had the idea, I asked myself why I use these places anyway, to work out if there was a possibility of changing. Is it price? Well no not really because one always assumes independents are more expensive, but they usually aren’t when you scratch below the service. The cold hard answer is, it’s easy. You have a huge list of people to buy for, it’s just easy to sit on the sofa and do it all in one or 2 hits from big retailers and get it delivered to your door. So if that’s the ONLY stumbling block I can think of, then I can do this! I’m prepared to put in more leg work to source more personal, quality gifts, from companies that care.
So what have I thought of my early browsing and purchasing? Well I can’t give too much information about gifts away yet, so as not to ruin the surprise for people I have bought for, but I will write my results up after Christmas! So far though I’ve noticed I’m putting a lot more thought into each persons gift. And it’s the thought that counts after all! I’ve also really enjoyed the diverse range of businesses that I’m using, and it’s opened up my eyes to just what creativity lies on your doorstep! I love that there’s so many small business and crafty individuals around, enough to overcome any problem. An example is that I didn’t know how I would source Christmas crackers, and then I discovered some customers at our shop were hand making Christmas crackers to raise money for charity. Christmas crackers usually seem wasteful, both in terms of money and resources, but this year I feel virtuous about purchasing them for the first time ever!
The other unexpected thing I have noticed, is that it’s made me question what is an independent business. The other day I was browsing a company that makes handmade Christmas items, when I saw they had 60,000 Facebook followers. Not really what I would describe as a small business. So I had to make a decision as to whether they fell within my accepted list, which lead to me looking into their business. It was started a few years ago by 2 friends, who still run the business. Their production and offices is still completely in the U.K. and their products are still hand finished to the highest quality. I got the impression they were still new and a good season could make them, and a bad season could break them. This made me think my order would be important to them and cared about by them. This put them on my accepted list! I decided that any business that is delighted to get orders and the orders are important to them, is the sort of business I want to send my money to!
The other thing I have discovered is that Etsy is awesome!
I will keep you posted about how it goes, if I succeed and what I learn along the way! But for now, happy independent Christmas!