Working with niche brands, it's always great to see new initiatives that support artisans, designers and smaller businesses.
This year, in response to the commercial behemoth of Black Friday, the Just A Card campaign is running an alternative in the form of Indie Week.
Running from the 19th through to the 23rd of November, Indie Week is a celebratory week of fun and noise with a particular focus on social media to encourage people to shop independent for Christmas:-
"In a world where people go mad and panic buy like crazy in the superstores on Black Friday, we want to redress the balance for small and independent businesses. We want to remind everyone that shopping small is a must this Christmas!"
Everyone passionate about creativity and independents is invited to share their stories on social media during the Indie Week 5-day Instagram Challenge. People are asked to celebrate the contribution independent shops and creatives make, plus post images of their JUST A CARD stickers, encouraging people to support independents.
Bigger isn't always better
Some brands see their sole mission as being to sell in to major department store chains and ‘non-food grocery’ ie the big supermarkets.
But this isn’t always what’s right for a brand – and with increased competition for every centimetre of shelf space the glory of seeing your products stocked by a high-street name can be short-lived.
There’s also the “all your eggs in one basket” syndrome – it may be great to have a mahoosive order from one of the big boys but should anything go wrong (as in the case of BHS, House of Fraser etc) then where does that leave you?
Not everyone wants to be supplying products on that level – it may not fit with your business plan – and even though expanding the business is one of your goals, you may want to keep your distribution to a smaller scale. If you’re hand-making products, then that may be one of your main USPs and so you don’t want to switch to producing them in volume.
But it’s more than that – the supermarkets and large chains have their place - but nothing compares to stepping into a specialist retailer – someone who not only knows their stuff inside out and is passionate about it but who also has an exciting and unique array of products on offer. It’s far more interesting stepping into a lovely delicatessen, cheese shop or craft gallery and discovering things in there that you’ve never seen before!
One of the biggest problems for small businesses - and it is stating the obvious - but, they all need sales to survive and for many that’s an uphill struggle. That's why awareness initiatives - be they days, weeks or year-round campaigns - are important to highlight the plight of the smaller business.
There's been a Small Business Saturday in the UK for a number of years and this year’s event is on 1st December - the main focus is on one day a year, but they are now more active at ‘making
a noise throughout the year and there's a Small Business Saturday bus tour which is travelling the country to visit 30 different towns and cities across the UK and you can collect this year's Small Biz Sat poster free from each stop.
"We want all kinds of small businesses to get involved, so know that whether you are a family business, local shop, online business, wholesaler, business service or small manufacturer, Small Business Saturday is supporting you!"
Designed to get everyone shopping in their local independent stores, there’s also Independents Day – aptly named to coincide with the big American holiday on the 4th July!
Independents’ Day UK is a not-for-profit campaign that exists to support and promote independent retail businesses across the UK all year round, but with an annual focus on July 4th: ‘Independents’ Day’ itself. Independents account for something in the order of 65% of the approximately 290,000 retail outlets in the UK and are at the heart of local communities throughout the country.
The Just A Card campaign is an initiative run by volunteers (including a little help from Howling Moon PR!) from the creative community that runs all year and encourages everyone to get involved – designers, artists, galleries, craft shops and independent retailers alike.
Started by artist and designer Sarah Hamilton, the Just A Card campaign aims to encourage people to support
independent shops, galleries and designers/makers. Sarah was inspired to start the campaign after reading a quote from shopkeepers who had recently had to close their gallery - "If everyone who'd complimented our
beautiful gallery had bought just a card we'd still be open".
The important message they convey is that even a small sale really helps to keep independent businesses in business - and the logo
and info are designed to make people realise this – there’s a window sticker available for retailers to display which explains the Just A Card message. Each and every sale is important, not just to the shops and galleries which make each and every high street (and side-street) unique, but to their artists and designers who are supplying them. It’s something to bear in mind when you’re out and about and ‘just browsing’.
Support and awards for small business
Experts in business, The Federation of Small Business offers members a wide range of vital business services including advice, financial expertise, support and a powerful voice in government. Their mission is to help smaller businesses achieve their ambitions.
The FSB Small Business Awards recognise the best small businesses and the self-employed from right across the UK, from every sector and industry and from businesses of all ages and all sizes. The awards are the leading celebration of small businesses, shining a light on some of the best, most innovative and most determined smaller businesses.
Entry to the awards is free whether you are a current FSB member or not. The entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well, with an incredible 5.7 million small businesses in the UK and the FSB wants you to help celebrate that.
Entries are now open for the 2019 Celebrating Small Business Awards
So shop small, shop local, shop independent...
It's essential to support smaller businesses - it's much more interesting to go shopping in an area which is made up of lots of small, specialist retailers who have sourced an interesting and diverse selection of products from a range of talented suppliers than one that's made up of the usual 'big boys' who end up making each and every high street look the same!