Centuries have passed since Napoléon Bonaparte branded Britain ‘a nation of shopkeepers’, yet the term – originally intended as an insult, revealed a truth that continues to be a source of national pride – small businesses form the backbone to our economy.
As the historic streets of Gloucester start to bustle again, with all non-essential retail now open, this weekend’s UK Independents’ Day provides a timely opportunity to boost the economy and show support for hundreds of independent businesses across the city.
Whether it’s a unique gift for a loved one, a beauty appointment, sampling a local delicacy or a cappuccino and a catch-up with friends, every transaction and ring of the till is a show of support that is more vital now than ever before. After the most challenging trading conditions in living memory, every sale or order is an investment in real people who all play a part in the city’s community and economy.
Aiming to shine the spotlight on the contributions of these independent shops and businesses, the UK Indie Day campaign is encouraging shoppers and customers to share their appreciation on Saturday, July 3 and Sunday, July 4, either by engaging in person and filling those shopping bags, or by giving a shout-out across social media, tagging in with #ukindieday.
Or perhaps it’s time to pledge to visit one or two independent retailers you’ve never visited before? There is something for everyone in Gloucester’s city centre, from the simple pleasures of crafting or vintage treasure hunting to spiritual and charitable endeavours, and all within a stone’s throw of the Cathedral’s spires.
Foodies won’t fail to be impressed by the city’s eateries and gastronomic offerings these days. A visit to the Quays Orchard Street market will be an additional treat for anyone in search of all things artisan and locally produced. Maybe a few treats for the England game on Saturday evening are in order? Whatever you’re looking for your visit and custom will make a world of difference, and you’ll be spoilt for choice.
For their part, Gloucester’s independent business owners are thrilled to be up and running and proud to be serving their local community.
“Being unique to Gloucester and to the people of this city is a real privilege and knowing that every purchase from us goes to help people is a brilliant feeling!” says Sally Collis, Hub manager of Treasure Seekers Hub on Westgate Street.
“We’re a social enterprise enabling people to become the best version of themselves. We do a lot of work with adults with learning disabilities and vulnerable people, and run a variety of courses, discos and performing arts for adults with learning disabilities and also a mental health support service every evening of the year. Treasure Seekers Hub is also an art and craft space with unique kits available to buy at very affordable prices to take away and make.
“It’s wonderful to meet, talk to and be able to help people from all walks of society. Gloucester is such a great place and the Westgate area especially with its magnificent buildings is a joy to be working in.”
Richard Ashton – Phillips, owner of Soundhouse Music Shop in St Aldate Street and professional musician, is equally passionate about playing his part in Gloucester’s business community.
“Independent businesses that are owned and run by people from the local community are essential. Not only is it important from a sustainability aspect but also helps to build community and relationships. They bring originality and individuality to a city centre – if all city centres were full of the same chains and brands then everything would become bland and lifeless.
“Music has been a passion of mine from a young age so to be able to earn a living and be an independent business owner in the music industry is fantastic! We’re all professional musicians. Music is an essential part of life, and it all starts with buying your first instrument.
“I love Gloucester, the history, the architecture but most of all the people – Gloucester folk are made of the best!
These are sentiments shared by independent retailers and small businesses throughout the city and echoed by Gloucester BID (Business Improvement District), which actively champions and supports local traders, and is offering a £50 Gloucester Gift Card prize to encourage shoppers and customers to submit photographs of their favourite independent shop over the weekend on Instagram using #UKIndieDayGloucester.
“The past year has been challenging for everyone, yet Gloucester’s traders have shown resilience and adaptability,” said Gloucester BID manager Emily Gibbon.
“We really hope that people show their love of local this weekend, and thoroughly enjoy the experience! Independent traders are part of Gloucester’s DNA, and that strong community spirit will help the city to go from strength to strength.”
Let’s celebrate our nation of shopkeepers.