Photo: Zohar Manor Abel
Gone are the days when shopping local meant loading a shopping basket up with old misshapen vegetables or paying over the odds for a small cut of meat. In fact, shopping locally has become so popular that over 16.5 million people across the UK, chose to shop local on the last ‘Small Business Saturday‘ day, raising a whopping £504 million. That is £36 million up from 2013’s Small Business Saturday event proving that there is an increasing trend for supporting local businesses.
Despite this, there is still a vast portion of the population that resort to the national chain stores for their weekly shop. Perhaps it is the convenience of having everything in one place, or the power of branding, luring shoppers into buying the household brands. Whatever the reason may be, this behaviour is detrimental to the growth of our city centres. According to research carried out by American Express, houses near town centres full of independent shops have risen in value by an average of £40,000 in the last ten years. This growth rate is 17% higher than growth in areas with fewer independent shops. This suggests that the money invested in small businesses not only helps maintain a unique high street, but it also benefits local residents by raising the value of their home.
Of course, it is not just finance that drives people to shop local. Shopping has historically been a highly social activity (pre internet age) and the relationship between shopkeeper and customer goes a long way in building the atmosphere of a local area. By shopping local, people are able to have an influence in what is being sold to them and possibly even indulge in the occasional discount. Independent retailers are able to operate in a more demand driven way, using their customer base as their testing ground. If a new flavour of cake is not selling well, it can be adapted within a matter of days to fit the tastes of the locals. Retailers may even be inclined to offer rewards for regular customers as a sign of gratitude, something that is heavily restricted in the large chain stores.
There is also the ethical side to consider. Whilst it is easy to stop at Tesco Express after you hop off the bus at Walthamstow Central, there is something about knowing the provenance of your food that makes it taste that little bit sweeter. Food with a short field to fork journey is not only better for the environment, having amassed fewer air miles than its supermarket counterpart, it is also more likely to contain more vitamins and minerals due to its freshness. Not to mention that by buying locally produced food, you are supporting local farmers and investing in their future. Now that is food with a conscience.
Luckily, Waltham Forest is blessed with a wide range of independent retailers and now has over 7915 local businesses according to data gathered by Waltham Forest Council. In Walthamstow alone, there is a strong community of people that shop local, be it from the UK’s best convenience store, The Spar on Orford Road or from the longest outdoor street market in Europe, located on the High Street.
Here are our top picks for shopping local in Walthamstow
Located on Orford Road, this little shop is home to a beautiful range of clothing and gifts for children aged 0-12 years. From chef outfits complete with mini cooking utensils to screen printed t-shirts there is something for all ages here. The only downside is that they don’t make there cute designs in adult sizes.
Fox and Bear is a treasure trove of quirky and interesting vintage finds. From 50s tea dresses to heavy American varsity jackets, there is something for men and women alike. Originally based in Walthamstow Village, you can now find them in Leyton as well as lots of vintage fairs across London.
Located in one of the oldest buildings in Walthamstow dating back to 1750, Second Nature is Walthamstow’s answer to Whole Foods Market. This country style farm shop sells a range of free range, organic fresh produce as well as an amazing array of spices. Our favourite is the Chia seeds that they sell which are used in the Banana Muffin recipe.
Instead of popping into Tesco on Forest Road, why not detour and check out the fantastic range of beverages on sale at Forest Wines. They sell the usual red, white, rosé and sparkling wines, however, they also stock a selection of craft beers for those who are not wine aficionados. What’s even better is that they offer free delivery on orders over £20 for E17 residents so you may not even need to leave your house.
Featured Image: James Tabbinor