Independent Shopping guide: Introduction
In a recession, small businesses are usually hit worst. Shopping Editor Kirstin Innes channels the spirit of the Blitz as she launches our campaign to support local, independent shops
Consider this collection of articles a celebration, and a call to arms. Independent, locally run businesses – the cafes, bars and shops run by locals who know what their neighbourhood wants – are as vital a part of the character of a city as the architecture that shapes it. However, there’s a recession on (we don’t know if you’ve heard …?), and all over Glasgow and Edinburgh, little local shops are shutting down, losing out to the easy lure of the high street and to credit-crunched consumers cutting costs. Many Edinburgh retailers have been doubly hit, with the tram works blocking consumer access and public transport. Despite the City Council’s laudable Open For Business campaign (check them out at www.edinburghshopper.co.uk), five shops have closed down on Leith Walk alone since the developments began at the end of 2007.
We want to stop this happening, but we need your help. Sure, that high street coat may be a bit cheaper than something hand-made by a young Scottish designer, but you know deep down in your bargain-hunting heart that it’ll fall to pieces after a few wears. And while your choice to buy CDs or books from independent stockists won’t even be noticed at Waterstones and HMV, it could make all the difference to an Avalanche or a Lost In Fiction. We want you to use your imagination as well as your consumer power, and refuse to settle for the same mass-manufactured products as everyone else.
Obviously, what follows is not completely comprehensive: there are a vast amount of local businesses out there, and we can only really scratch the surface. What we’ve tried to do is pick up on areas in Edinburgh and Glasgow where indie businesses shape the community around them in some way.
Accompanying all of this is our brand new online shopping guide, which we hope to build into the definitive listing source for Edinburgh and Glasgow’s indie stores. You can find it at www.list.co.uk/shoppingguide. We’re going to be continually updating it: let us know if we’ve missed out your favourite vintage store or local bike shop on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Now go forth, and consume for your community!