Bristol is famous for our thriving high streets packed full of independent businesses. But in these difficult times, many households are understandably reverting to a big supermarket shop – it seems simpler and safer.
I’m here to show you how we can support local business from the safety of our homes.
But first a caveat – this article is aimed predominantly at those of us who are lucky enough to be able to work from home easily, and who have a secure income during this crisis.
If you are a keyworker doing heroic shifts to keep the country going, or have lost your job, you may not have much choice about where and how you shop right now. You have all my gratitude and sympathy –and as a councillor I’ll be doing everything I can to ensure nobody is left behind by this crisis.
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If you’re able, there are two very good reasons to support local business during this difficult time:
- They are much more economically vulnerable than the big supermarkets – so if you want your lovely independent high street to still be there in three months, it is more important than ever to give them your custom now.
- Many independent shops have more on the shelves right now than the supermarkets, as Imran Khan (the science communicator, not the prime minister of Pakistan!) wittily observed in his tweets last week:
So, how to do it?
- Check out this map of Bristol independent businesses delivering during Coronavirus shutdown. It is being updated by volunteers and at time of writing lists over 90 businesses from greengrocers to restaurants, breweries to pet shops. It is also in the process of collaborating/merging with similar maps available at supportbristolfood.co.uk and indiemap.co.uk.
- Good Sixty – who deliver from dozens of independent businesses to your home in a single drop, by cargo bike.
- Indie Kitty – a project by Wriggle, the app that gets you special offers in local independent food and drink outlets. Indie Kitty is a chance for people to give independent businesses extra support in uncertain times by purchasing vouchers which can be redeemed when the coronavirus crisis passes.
- Visiting independent shops in person – if you are not self-isolating then you are (currently) allowed to go out shopping for “basic necessities”, as infrequently as possible. The government has advised us to use delivery services wherever possible, but if that’s not possible for you, then you can still support independent shops. Of course be careful – wash your hands, keep two metres from everyone and observe any rules the shop has set up. Some independent shops have done a great job of this – special mention to Joe’s Bakery and The Fish Shop on Gloucester Road.
Carla Denyer is a Green Party councillor for Clifton Down
Main photo by Martin Booth