Black Friday? No thank you.

I remember watching footage of Tesco customers scrambling for televisions on Black Friday a few years ago. It wouldn’t have been out of place on a David Attenborough programme showing territorial wild animals fighting for power. I couldn’t quite believe the force that was being used and am sure that if someone had fallen they could have been seriously injured. As of that day I vowed to never buy into Black Friday. I know some people use the deals to purchase items already on their Christmas shopping lists and that’s great - we all enjoy a bargain. But there is no point in buying ‘stuff’ just because it’s a bargain. I'm not writing this to judge you for wanting to get a good deal, or make you feel bad for spending money on November 23rd. I’m writing this to ask you to briefly think before parting with cash - do you really need it? Can you buy it from a smaller business? Can you find an alternative in an independent shop on your local high street?

As we all know, Black Friday is just another American tradition that the UK has highjacked as a way of exploiting the consumer. There are a few theories around where the origin of the day; one being that way back in the 17th century it was used to describe the congestion caused by shoppers the day after Thanksgiving. The second is that it was the day that retailers bank accounts went from the red to the black. Marketing and advertising around the day is extremely enticing in convincing the consumer that products will be heavily reduced for ‘ONE DAY ONLY! There will NEVER be a sale like this! EVER!’ Until the post Christmas sales of course, where pretty much EVERYTHING in the shops will be discounted…!

Lovesay and Mo will not be offering a Black Friday discount for 2 reasons:

1 - It goes against everything I stand for with the company and consumerism. I’m here to inspire you to buy less, but opt for quality over quantity and something that is made to last.

2 - I cannot afford to slash my prices as they do on the high street. I’m confident that my customers are happy to pay full price for my products on the 23rd of November, as they do every other day of the year.

Unfortunately, small businesses simply cannot compete with the price cuts on the high street. There is an ‘unjustified high price’ stigma attached to a lot of independent shops and small businesses, but let me tell you now that price is 100% justified. A product is made from materials which have to be sourced and paid for. It is then made in an environment using both electrical and man power. It’s branded with labels or tags that have been handmade or time has been taken to out-source them. It’s then photographed with equipment that has been hired or invested in, then advertised on a website that costs time and money to create and maintain. It may be driven (in a car that needs fuel) to a market or fair where it will be displayed on a table or rail that has been paid for. All of this requires time and labour and it all happens before a profit can even begin to come into the equation. This product is fairly priced. The cheaper, mass produced products you can buy online or on the high street are often not fairly priced. If you take a step back and realise how much work goes into every stage of creating a product before you pick it up in a shop, you’ll also realise that cheaper prices mean someone along the chain is being short changed.

Some of you may have heard of the ‘Just A Card’ campaign which was set up in response to this quote from Sarah Hamilton - ‘If everyone who’d complimented our beautiful gallery had bought ‘just a card’ we’d still be open.’ Positive feedback and compliments go A LONG WAY, but a business cannot survive on positivity alone. You’re more likely to get better quality, well and consciously made products from smaller businesses than you are from the online and high street giants. These gifts are often far more personal too and show that you’ve made an effort to think outside the box. I love to receive a gift I’ve not seen before, or something I know none of my friends will have.

So this Christmas I’m hoping to inspire you to shop local and source products from small businesses and independent retailers. The ‘Just A Card’ campaign officially runs this week (19th-23rd November) but I’m hoping the message will stay with you for the duration of your Christmas shopping. I’ve compiled a small list of some of my current favourite online sellers and independent shops in my home town of Nailsworth…

ONLINE

  • Lilies London - Handmade hair accessories perfect for little girls who love anything sparkly!

  • Piece By Jackson - Unique side tables and plant stands made from tiles and copper piping.

  • Lois Gunn - Enamel pins, jewellery and other funky gifts.

  • Musthud - Handmade muslins with a pom pom trim edging.

IN NAILSWORTH

  • Truce - Contemporary design store selling homewares, gifts, jewellery and menswear.

  • James Lear of Arundel - Traditional and quirky menswear and accessories as well as a range of home accessories.

  • Armed and Gorgeous - A huge range of beautiful jewellery and accessories, a lot of which is made in Britain.

This Friday 23rd November head down to your local high street and check out the range of independent shops that are there. Or head over to www.etsy.co.uk and check out the thousands of wonderfully talented makers that are there. You can find almost anything on that website!