What do we understand ‘independent’ to mean? It is everywhere these days and in all walks of life, from ‘Indy’ films to Queen B’s ‘Independent Women’. It carries a notion of empowerment, achievement and integrity, widely recognised by 21st century society. But in terms of ‘business’, what does it mean?
By definition, an independent business is one that operates with no external influence, run by an individual, couple or family, consisting of no more than 3 stores but most often as a single, unique location. (With further scrutiny one could (and maybe should) apply a stricter code to define.)
To most, the idea of an independent business is rooted in the stereotypes: the butcher, baker, grocer et al. It is this understanding that requires broadening. With raised awareness, our socially recognised interpretation of ‘independence’ can begin to reach the businesses that are the life-blood of our local economies.
So, what is an independent business? Well, it’s a business that stands alone but as an intrinsic part of your community. It’s the boutique fashion store in a converted unit on the high street; the young guy that builds custom bikes out of his rented garage-cum-workshop; the small restaurant down a narrow side street; or the cafe growing it’s own ingredients.
And why exactly should we shop at independents? When you think about it, it’s very simple. Yes, the big brands and corporations offer us cheap, convenient product to service our consumer hunger, but beyond providing you with a £3 bikini to dance around in at the weekend, or offering low-wage employment, where does your community benefit? Through shopping locally, supporting independent businesses, not only will your hard-earned dosh circulate back into a healthy financial system (instead of getting tied up in the board rooms and tax havens) but you will benefit from better service and products while helping to encourage the support of entrepreneurs and the jobs that they in turn create.
So what are you waiting for?
Further reading: The Guardian - 7 Reasons To Shop Locally