How to Save the High Street a Card at a Time…
It’s not been a great year for retail has it? House of Fraser, Debenhams and now John Lewis. The stalwart of the High Street has announced that it’s half year profits have slumped by 99%. We’re just not shopping in the high street. We’re busy – we shop online and when we head into “town” we expect something more than what’s available online don’t we?
Thats’ where the (often small) independents come in and yes, that includes me. You see, we do the job we do for reasons other than pure profit. We have a passion. We create, we bake, we brew, we write, we walk dogs. We design, we print we carve and we sew.
And in doing so we hope to being something completely different to the retail table. Buy online, you click and you’re done. It’s incredibly handy and invaluable in today’s busy age.
But it could never compete with going actual “shopping”. But actual shopping has to offer something that online shopping can’t. Why would we make the effort to go to a shop if we can get the same thing cheaper (there are fewer overheads when you operate out of a bunker on an industrial estate) form our armchair?
Well for me its all about the experience. I go to Blend Cafe at Sneinton Market not just because the coffee is amazing. The coffee is amazing. But the vibe is great, the music is always good, the staff are lovely and it has reading material that speaks to me. I get excellent value for money in Blend in lots of ways over and above my daily cappuccino!
So how can us little shops offer customers a great experience? Well, for starters we are there right in front of you to help. Not sure about something? Ask us. Not sure which card to go for for Uncle Brian? We’ll be happy to help. More than that I can even whip up something personalised while you wait. When you come to the studio we’ll probably be listening to some excellent sounds which invariably triggers off conversations. About music? Yes. But also about all manner of other nostalgia that the music fires up. Often you’ll be able to see us printing, painting and making so you can see the entire process of your product from start to finish. Its like a little club of like minded folk and it’s fab.
I love this and this is why I do what I do. Yes I need to make money but I could choose a hundred ways to do this. I’m a trained Occupational Therapist and have had a variety of jobs including warder at the British Museum which was as awesome as it sounds if a little spooky at closing time in the Mummy room. I do what I do because I have a passion for it and I feel I can offer much, much more than an online shopping experience.
Me and hundreds of other little shops and galleries up and down the UK. One of which is the wonderful Focus Gallery on Derby Road in Nottingham. Run by Antonia Focus is the longest running independent gallery in Nottingham, That’s going some. And it’s a right treasure trove of artists and makers both national and local. And at the moment I have a little wall show in the gallery!
Antonia has kindly given me the opportunity to display my paintings old and new from the 15th September – 27th October 2018 so do trot along and take a gander. I’ve been taking inspiration from some unsung heros of Nottingham – true gems like the Savoy Cinema and Lady Bay Bridge, who have rarely been immortalised in paint. I thought they deserved it.
Galleries like the Focus Gallery need their customers. They need you to head on up there and buy cards and gifts from them. If they have-not got that you’re after – have a chat. Gallery & shop owners are always happy to hear what gaps there might be and what you’d love to see. We don’t want to see these gems disappearing. We need a vibrant and diverse shopping experience, not an identikit high street!
Shop local, support small businesses, check out the “Just a Card” Campaign and together we will save the High Street, one card at a time.