March 2021

Graphic saying shop small

Shop Small and Shop Local
Supporting independent businesses and shopping local is not a new topic to this blog. Indeed, in 7 reasons to shop locally & 5 places to do it I gave it good mention. Now here’s a guest post from Dona Bradley, architectural illustrator on the topic.

Shop Small and Shop Local

In the lead up to Christmas you may have seen and heard the phrases shop small and shop local all over the place on social media. If so, did you wonder what they meant?

Well, in this blog I’ll explain what they mean to me. I’ll also show what a real difference you can make with where and how you spend your hard earned pennies, especially during this pandemic period – and our emergence from lockdown.

Shopping small and local matters as much now as it did at Christmas.

Shop Small and Shop Local

What makes your high street unique

What makes your high street yours, unique and memorable? It’s the independent shops, cafes and hairdressers where you get personalised service. Where they know your name and you can find that gift that you can’t get anywhere else. They make customer service a priority. Such businesses arranged click and collect during the lockdowns. They adapt to situations because they listen to their customers every day.

Who remembers heading to Da Paolo’s deli for dried pasta during the first lockdown because you knew they would always have some? Or grabbing a take-away coffee from Baristocats because it tastes so good. And you always have a little chat too even with your mask on.

Shop Small and Shop Local - DaPaolo deli in Swindon
DaPaolo Italian Del on Commercial Road


Well, these wonderful places also use local suppliers whose own business relies on the sales generated through these high street outlets. They may be home-based makers. Or they might have a small workshop somewhere and supplying a box or two of products on a regular basis enables their business to develop and expand in new directions.

From little acorns …

All sorts of things can build up from these small beginnings. My own business, dona B drawings, has benefitted from the support of the Central Library Shop in Swindon.

Since closing for the first lockdown they have been unable to order any more stock from me. It’s been quite a blow. But I’ve concentrated on increasing my online profile and have been lucky to get through last year with reasonable success.

Speaking of little acorns, for independent businesses in general, but for artists in particular, a big shop small-shop local mantra grew from the Just a Card movement. JUST A CARD is a grassroots campaign on a mission to encourage people to support, value and buy from artists, makers, independent shops and small businesses. Every sale, even just a card, is vital to their prosperity and survival.

Shop Small and Shop Local - Just a card logo


Avoiding Amazon if you can

We all know that Amazon is there and wants to solve all our shopping needs – and sometimes needs must for us all. But, if you spend a little extra time you can find wonderful independent things online during the lockdown and often cheaper than you think. These are the sorts of gifts that people will remember receiving because they’ll never have seen them before.

So, shopping small and shopping local has wide-reaching benefits – for you as a customer, the local economy, the community, the local high street and more. Every sale, even a mere a card, is vital to someone’s prosperity and survival.

Top tips for shopping local

  1. Find your locals
    When you’re out and about take notice of the tiny shops you often walk past and look them up online when you get home. If you can do pop along to local markets and community events. Check out any local Facebook pages or friends feeds as there will often be some suggested gems there. Use Not on the High Street or Etsy as a replacement for Google. These sites are great but do charge fees to the makers so look them up on there and then go to their own websites where they make more from your purchase.

    2. Shop early
    Avoid pinch points in demand and delivery, reducing stress for you and the seller. So if you have a birthday coming up don’t leave things too late and shop from September for Christmas if you can.

    3. Contact them
    If you’re not sure of the process or the options or delivery times get in touch and you’ll get all the information you need.

    4. Shop often
    If you can please do return to shop with them again. That will make a real difference to their business and confidence. Build a shopping relationship with them which you definitely won’t find on Amazon.

    5. Follow them
    Find them on social media and follow them, like and comment on their posts and share the ones you can. Put product reviews online and share the secret amongst your friends and family. If they have a Google listing leave feedback on there too. Or drop them a message to say how happy you were with their service. All that is a huge help and makes you feel good too.

    6. Join them
    There’ll often be special offers or early access to new products or event bookings.

To get you started

And finally, to get you started, why not check out all the artists on the Swindon Open Studios website. They would love to hear from you having missed out on the open studios event last year. Fingers crossed for 2021!

Find the participating artists here.

There was also a list started for Christmas local shopping on the Swindon Rocks website here.

And there’s more. There’s a Swindon Gift Market on Facebook too where you can reach out to lots of local creatives who can produce customised things just for you.

I’m hoping there might be a chance to arrange a Christmas pop-up shop in Swindon this year to enable you to find lots of lovely local things all in one place.

About Dona B Drawings

Find my Swindon homewares and gifts on my website or get in touch for personalised options and commissions.

Shop Small and Shop Local - coate water diving board by Dona Bradley
Shop Small and Shop Local - thank you for your support