Shop Local and support your community
When you Shop Local, you’re not just ‘buying stuff’, you are investing in the area in which you live.
We all know that shopping with the likes of Amazon and ASOS is convenient, but pleeeeease don’t forget those businesses that still provide quality, customer service and a smile. Shop Local and you get all that, as well as sustaining your local community, not to mention cutting down on air and road miles.
Before I go any further, I don’t want you to think I’m on a planet-saving soap-box here, because I’m not. This is just about the week I’ve had, shopping with some of our awesome local friends. It reminded me of how nice it was to just slow down a little bit, put some pennies back into local pockets, and take the time to stop and ‘smell the flowers’ (literally as you’ll read in a mo).
Forgive me reader, for I have sinned. Yes, I have shopped on Amazon this week. But you know what, that’s ok in my opinion. It has its place. But after my 45 second shopping experience, it was over. Life is for living though, and I have had so much pleasure this week shopping with some lovely people that I have built up friendships with over the years. So far this week I’ve been to:
We’ve been working alongside Michelle and her team for years, providing the best Hampers in the hemisphere, for our guests. I love popping in to pick up lots of treats, a coffee (or two) and a natter. This week it was all about shopping for my daughter’s Christmas presents as she’s a real foodie. It was so nice having Michelle go round the Deli with me, as my personal shopper as she knows what my daughter likes. You don’t get that online!
When you Shop Local, you find businesses that go the extra mile. Why? Because we value your business. We need it. My next visit was to:
The thing that always gives me a warm feeling here is that sellotaped to the door on your way out is a handwritten sign that says “Thank you for your support”. That, to me, is what this is all about. And that is our ethos too. We are all genuinely grateful to our customers for their support, as with them we’d have nothing and have to go and get a job!
My mate James and his team have been providing a service to Debenham and the surrounding area since 1707. I don’t think James was there at the start! It’s one of those fabulous local hardware stores that sells everything from spatulas to saucepans, paint to plugs, and bubblewrap to baubles. When I need kindling I text James and he gets a load ready for me. What made me think of this Blog Post was that I needed some new spatulas and wooden spoons for the barns. I could have got them on Amazon with a couple of clicks, but as I needed kindling too, I thought I’d rather support my local independent retailers for the other stuff.
Whilst James was getting the kindling to my car I popped a few doors up to our favourite butchers to sort out our Christmas order of bacon:
Shaun & Deaglan have been wowing our guests with their smoked bacon for years now and whilst I don’t eat it myself (not really up there on a Vegan’s shopping list), it gets rave reviews from our guests.
I could have sorted the order out over the phone or by email, but as I was nearby, I just popped in to say hi. I had a laugh with the guys, moaned about the election and Brexit, sorted the Christmas order, and went along my merry way. Nice.
On my way back to the car to load the kindling I popped in to see:
I didn’t need any flowers, but we were long overdue a catch up. Lucy has been delivering amazing bouquets to our guests for many years now. Here she is a couple of years ago preparing The Granary Barn for a proposal. The answer was yes, in case you’re wondering!
On the way back to Woodfarm HQ from Debenham I pass:
This is the newest of this little crop of Independent businesses but they’ve been going for a few years now. The Hog & Hen is a true example of a family business, with three generations involved. OK, I may have been a little optimistic with the youngest pictured here! The elder generation aren’t in the pic in case you were looking!
As the name suggests, they have a whole load of wonderful local produce, which just started with a little shed supplying their own eggs, and it’s grown from there. On this occasion I only wanted some fruit, but I always know that what I’m buying is tasty!
So please, Shop Local wherever and whenever you can. It means so much to us little businesses, and I’m pretty sure it’s an altogether much more pleasant experience.
However, don’t forget, when I say Shop Local, what I mean is support small, independent businesses. I don’t suggest for one minute that you all book a Holiday Cottage round the corner from your house. That’d be daft. Maybe you could still enter into the spirit of ‘Shop Local’ and book your next break with a small, independent Holiday Cottage business somewhere like Suffolk for example. Maybe in Stonham Aspal. Or a Barge in Snape Maltings or Woodbridge. You get the idea.
When I set the business up over ten years ago now, I focussed a great deal on the effect that it would have on the local economy. I sought some European grant funding and had to ‘prove’ what a positive impact it would have. It’s a long story for another time, but the very existence of Woodfarm Barns & Barges now contributes around £1.5m to the economy around here, most of which goes into the pockets of independent retailers, pubs, delis, coffee shops, farm shops and other small businesses. I like that and I’m proud of that contribution.