Unless you’ve been living under a rock (if you have can I join you) you’ll have noticed that everyone is talking about shopping from independent stores. I’ve seen endless quotes on Pinterest and read heaps of blog posts on the topic. However, these guides and lists of amazing local brands are always based in big cities. What about those of us who live out of town? Can you shop small even if you don’t live in a big city?
I’m lucky that I get to experience the best of both worlds living in a small town not far from Edinburgh. I can hop on a bus and get my fill of boutique shopping whenever I want. But what about those days when I want to stay a little closer to home. We have the usual big supermarket in town but not much else (unless you’re looking for bookies or a take away). So how can I shop from independent brands when there isn’t any in town?
Shopping independently doesn’t always have to mean shopping locally. The easiest way for us country bumpkins to shop independently is by going online. After all, buying from an independent seller is the same whether they live around the corner or half across the world. You’re still helping make a difference in a families life. However shopping online, especially fro independent brands can be overwhelming. There are literally millions of websites out there so how do you find what you’re looking for. I suggest using a site such as Not On The High Street or Etsy to help you search through different independent sellers. With these sites you also have the additional safety you get from larger brands when entering your credit card details. The Ethical Market is another great site if you are looking for more ethical and sustainable options. Although the majority of smaller independent brands do have more ethical business practices than larger high street brands.
One of the major benefits of living out of the city is you get to experience a proper farmers market every week. Not one of those fancy farmers markets you find in the city but one where the food comes from just along the road and the person who grew it is selling it to you. Country markets are often mostly food, although you may find a craft stall or two depending on the market. Pop along and enjoy the experience, haggle and take home some tasty treats.
There are 2 kinds of farm shop the nice clean ones which are like a fancy supermarket and the huts in a muddy farm courtyard. Living outside the city means you have access to both. Personally, I prefer the hut in the muddy courtyard as they tend to have the freshest stock. Just make sure to shout loud to let someone know you’re there and wear your wellies. The nicer ones often have a cafe and gift shop attached so you can make a day of it. This is also a great opportunity to chat with a local farmer and find out when the markets are on and where to go to buy your local produce.
My nearest town is an old mining town which is full of bookies and takeaways but that doesn’t mean there aren’t a couple of hidden gems. Even if you think the fanciest shop in town is the local co-op it’s still worth exploring. Take a wander down the little alleyways and pop into every shop you find. Get talking to the owners as they are the people in the know when it comes to local shops. Small towns often still have a butcher, bakers and greengrocers which is one of the best ways to do your weekly shop. You may not have as many options as the city dwellers but they are there you just have to hunt them out.
If you’ve done all of the above and still feel your lacking independent shopping options then plan a trip into the city. To make the most out of your trip do your research first or else you’ll just end up in the normal high street shops. The best way to find out about local brands is through local bloggers. Look for posts recommending local shops or tweet a couple of bloggers to ask their favourites. Once you have a list of stores to visit make sure you check you know where they are and how to find them. Then it’s time to jump on the bus and do some shopping.
*all of the photos feature gift ideas from Not On The High Street taken at their recent Colour Saturday event in Edinburgh
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