Firstly, an apology. I promised myself when I started the blog that I would post frequently. However, nothing happens that isn’t food making and order taking in December! So I’m sorry for the lack of posts during silly season! I’m back in the real world again now!
So this year I made a little vow to myself that I would do all my shopping with independent businesses. We have the food well and truly taken care of, and I can hand on heart say that nothing on our Christmas dining table ever comes from a supermarket. It pleases me greatly to not ever have to battle the supermarket queues and panicking in the run up to Christmas. Plus we get to enjoy the experience that our customers get of a Radmore Christmas, and are bursting with pride at the food we produce. So this year I decided to carry this through to all my gift shopping and try to support only independent businesses, instead of giant multinationals. Here’s 10 things I learnt along the way.
1. You have to spend more time, not more money
Overall I have spent about the same in money on Christmas as in other years. The main reason I have used platforms like Amazon in the past is because it’s easy. You can sit down in one evening and get most of the Christmas shopping done in one hit and have it delivered to your door. It’s taken more thought and more leg work to use independent businesses, but as a result…
2. Everyone gets something with more thought
To use independents I have put a lot more thought into each persons present. You can’t just put 8 of the same item in your basket if you are getting hand made and personalised gifts made like you would from a major retailer. So everyone has had something with thought instead of just a token gift. And isn’t that what gift giving is all about?!
3. There’s some great platforms for accessing small businesses these days
Sites like Etsy and Not On The High Street allow you to directly buy from small independent businesses without having to trawl around every craft fair in the midlands.
4. It takes longer to arrive
I will be prepared for this next Christmas. Because most things you order from an independent business are hand finished and made to order, they take longer to come. If you buy it on amazon it turns up in 24 hrs. Obviously it’s much nicer to have something hand made and sent out from a business of real people, but I had left it later than I intended with some of my shopping and as a result was waiting for a few items till quite close to Christmas. And I couldn’t remember if I’d missed anyone, or if siblings gifts were very mismatched in value until it arrived. Not very organised of me, I know. Next year I will consider this before I start! Everything did turn up in time and was beautiful may I add!
5. You feel more virtuous
I really felt like my money was doing good and my custom was valued!
6. Everyone doesn’t get the same present
This is probably my favourite thing. Everybody got unique and individual presents. Some years I have worried that the same child might get the same toy 5 times over, but I didn’t even have to consider that this year.
7. You have to decide what constitutes a small business
You have an image in your head of what a small business is and what a large corporation is. Some companies blur the lines though. If you see that they have 70,000 Facebook followers, they are not really ‘small’. But if they are making hand crafted goods in the U.K. Well that’s the sort of business I want to use. So I guess it comes down to personally how you decide to spend your money. I decided this. If I felt my custom would be appreciated. If I felt the owners of the business would wake up in the morning, look at the orders that had come in over night and be delighted. If I felt my custom would help the company of real people to grow. Then they made my list! Because that’s how WE feel. We appreciate our customers above all, we LOVE orders coming in and a good Christmas helps our business grow into the new year. So that’s how I set my bar!
8. You make friends along the way
Because you deal with real people you get a personal service and build great relationships along the way. This really has to be the best thing about using any small business. And you use each other’s businesses in return too.
9. It spreads to other areas
I found that I thought more about EVERYTHING I was buying. Instead of buying Christmas cards when I was at the supermarket (because it was easy and needed no thought) I went online and searched for cards that support charities. I’m a supporter of the air ambulance and found some lovely cards to raise money for their service. I’m ashamed to say I’ve never even thought to do this in the past. We also had some customers at the shop who were making hand made crackers to raise money for Mind and the DEC. Buying those made me feel good about Christmas crackers for the first time ever! And again, they were hand made so much more special than your supermarket waste of money ones!
10. You feel much more in control
I know this might sound a little crazy but when in a big multinational, either physically or online you know you get subliminal messages, positioning and a multi-billion-£ amount of research that influences you to buy more than you intended. I loved the feeling of being in control of my purchases through using small businesses. It felt much more considered and purposeful!
Overall, I loved the experience and have no reason to not carry it through to next Christmas and many other purchases in between! I did buy a couple of bits for my boys from a big company that wasn’t an independent business, but for many of the same reasons. This business was Toys R Us. A foundation of my childhood with a theme song that’s ingrained in my brain. I felt so sorry for them and their staff with the news that their future was uncertain, so I popped in to get a couple of bits on the run up to Christmas. I thought perhaps I could spread my money around a little more.
I have used so many great independent businesses and it’s been a lovely experience. I’ve put links to some of them in here, but this is just a few that I’ve used I couldn’t list everyone.
Hope everyone had a great Christmas!
Special thanks to my friend Catherine Tarbun who is an independent Usborne book trader who made Christmas a lot easier for me and all the book worms in the family.
Also deserving a special mention is Ben’s very talented Auntie Caroline who owns the Spa at Ely; fantastic for gorgeous high quality gifts, perfect for those who just need spoiling! https://spa-ely.co.uk