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Keeping it Local

This month sees the launch of Velvet’s Love Local campaign: a 12-month celebration of our area’s high streets.

Love Local - Bury St Edmunds (9408798)
Love Local - Bury St Edmunds (9408798)

“When you choose to buy from a local shop, eat at an independent restaurant or meet up with friends at a neighbourhood coffee shop, you are not only choosing to make a bigger contribution to the local economy, you are choosing creativity, community, provenance, uniqueness, service and style – all part of the local independent experience.” So says Anne Beamish, co-founder of Indie Cambridge - and Velvet agrees.

In partnership with Bury Free Press, our sister paper, Velvet is launching Love Local, a campaign spotlighting our area’s high streets. Each month, we’ll be asking a different expert to take us on a virtual tour of their favourite haunts, from boutiques to beauty parlours, cafes to restaurants, markets to arts venues. First up - see page 88 - Rohiny Belani, our contributing fashion editor, introduces her top clothing and accessory stores.

Love Local - Bury St Edmunds (9408802)
Love Local - Bury St Edmunds (9408802)

Indie Cambridge is supporting Love Local - see Anne’s opinion piece, left - and Cambridge Business Improvement District (BID) is backing us too. “Cambridge has more than 250 reasons to shop local, thanks to the diverse array of independent shops and eateries that add character and flavour to our high street,” says BID’s Ian Sandison.

“For the second year running, Cambridge has just been crowned Britain’s best retail location, but, despite accolades such as this, we recognise that times are tough for many bricks and mortar stores. That’s why Cambridge BID operates an Independents’ Fund, which is ring-fenced in support of local businesses, and our Love Cambridge Gift Card helps to keep customer spend in the city too.” As part of its new Love Cambridge Independents brand, unveiled this spring, the BID has just published Independents’ Map, to help visitors discover the city’s smaller shopping gems.

Mark Cordell of Bury’s BID, Our Bury St Edmunds, is also behind Love Local. “Since the BID was created in 2010, one of our key strategies has been the importance to Bury St Edmunds of our independent businesses,” he explains. “We consider them our USP and over the past eight years the proportion of local independents has always exceeded 50 per cent of all the businesses in town.”

There are many reasons to shop indie, adds Mark: “Our independents offer a combination of high quality goods and services, with many of these being unique to these individual establishments.

“There is lots of research that demonstrates money spent in independent businesses is regenerated throughout the local economy at a higher proportion than is the case with chains.

“The vast majority of independents are owned by local people who know the town well and know what their customers want, so they can quickly adapt their offer. Their own livelihood and that of their staff is their personal responsibility and therefore the motivation to succeed is very strong.

“Also, while they are having to work and spend so much of their time dedicated to their business, it in effect becomes a part of their social life too, so many of them therefore do all they can to make a visit to their premises fun and enjoyable. In effect they personalise the experience of a visit - and make their customers feel important.”

We couldn’t have put it better ourselves.

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