Christmas Community Spirit – and why small businesses need it all year round
At this time of year, we all see the online reminders to try and buy things from local businesses, how much it supports them etc, and I am sure most of us pay attention to this and do our best to think of something we can buy locally to gift those we buy for.
We may get a warm fuzzy feeling when we do this, but why do so many people forget about it for the rest of the year?
Where I live, in Aberkenfig, we have a brilliant array of shops and businesses that rely entirely on people personally visiting their shops on a regular basis. They are not multi-nationals with e-shops and 24/7 online shopping availability that we can click when their doors shut after hours.
When I moved to the village around 12 years ago, I decided my mantra would be “If I can buy it in Aberkenfig or Bridgend, that is where I will buy it”.
Sounds easy enough, and I can hear people yelling that “It is more expensive” or “They don’t have everything I need” at the screen as they read this.
So this is where a change of consumer habit has to come in, and that starts with every one of us.
Why would I drive all the way to one of the big DIY superstores in Bridgend, when I can walk into Bakers DIY
and say to Simon, “Have you got a thingy to fix this thingamabob? whatchamacallit? What do you call it please?” and he will not only know what I mean, but will either have it there and then, or in a day or two at the very most.
By shopping locally, I have not driven my car, not used fuel, so not had a diverse effect on the environment , but I have actually personally interacted with staff, other customers, and the owner. How different this is from the big stores, where our money just goes to invisible shareholders, with no concern for their customers other than how much they can put in the till.
Over the years, I have bought everything from a sink plug, dog food, paint, recyclable cleaning products to a wood burning stove with Simon in Bakers and have never once had to take anything back and got the right thing, first time, every time. Visit Bakers DIY on Facebook.
We are even lucky enough to have a Bike sale and repair shop still in our village,
run by Jason Vernon, another local man who has been there over ten years now and is still going strong thanks to his brilliant ability to know exactly what someone needs. He is able to fix things at the drop of a hat due to his exceptional personal experience in the bike world, with his son Taylor being a professional cyclist.
Not only have we bought bikes in this shop, we’ve ended up becoming such friends that when his dog Gem had two separate litters of puppies, we ended up with one each of those as well! Visit Bike It on Facebook
For the last year, we have been graced with a lovely new shop by Chris Gwylim – Vale Flooring and Furniture.
Since the shop has opened, I have managed to find amazing and unusual gifts for people I know who are a nightmare to buy for. The quality of the items sold there is second to none, and there is a lovely friendly atmosphere that can’t be found in a department store gift section anywhere.
I love going in here for five minutes, but it usually turns into an hour by the time I have finished catching up with Chris, talking about our mutual love of wild birds, gardens, flowers, and just about anything else that pops into our heads as well. Oh, and did I mention where I buy my carpets from….? Visit Vale Flooring and Furniture on Facebook
We also have the Watering Holes
– The Prince of Wales being our personal regular, hosted by yet another local man, Jeremy Matthews – or Bear
to those who have known him even longer than me… And ably assisted by the lovely Sarah
Not only is this a pub, it’s a place where friends meet, racing lads gather, Karaoke is sang along to by everyone, and a true sense of community exists in this place. Where would I have been a year ago if I lost a favourite much loved bracelet somewhere else, in an anonymous Chain pub? Minus a bracelet – that is where I would be! But not this place, an amazing local lady who was there found it outside, handed it in, and it was back on my wrist the next day. It is a safe environment for all ages, my daughter is 22 and she goes there with her Darts team friends, and there are folks there aged over 80. Everyone looks out for one another, and that is why it is a special part of the village. Visit Prince of Wales on Facebook
But of course Sarah and I simply couldn’t be seen in the pub without our beautifully manicured nails created by Debbie of Zhoozh Nails and Body who is based just above the pub on the 1st floor. She does gorgeous eyelashes too! Visit Zhoozh Nails and Body on Facebook
I haven’t been lucky enough (yet….) to have my lovely husband agree to a brand new dream kitchen, but when he does, Kitchen and Bathroom Dreams
with the lovely Rob Addis and Lee and Michelle Phillips (Again, locals!) who have been there over ten years will be where we go. I have friends who have gone there for their kitchens, and they are totally fabulous, very professional, friendly and down to earth. Visit Kitchen Dreams at Facebook.
As the local Accountant, from a business point of view, there are not only the businesses you can see, in the actual shops, but there are also those amazing self employed trades that live and work in the area as well. We have amazing plumbers, hairdressers, Nail Techs, Beauticians, builders, cafes, that all are an important and vital part of our local economy. Their contribution is also vital to sustaining the work ethic and overall well being of where we live and I tip my hat to them.
I am sorry I haven’t been able to mention every single business here, but in the New Year I am going to blog about every business locally individually.
In the meantime, whilst you are feeling festive and buying a little something here and there locally, please do your best to keep this up in the New Year and beyond. We are so lucky to have all these things on our doorstep, long may it continue. Without your continued and extra investment into these businesses, we will all have no choice than to go to huge business parks out of town, and line the pockets of the big businesses. And none of us want to do that now, do we?