Help create a unique city
1.We head off on city breaks to get away, experience something new. But if we only spend our dosh in chain shops (UK especially), we encourage replica cities where every high street looks the same and you might as well have stayed put. Sure, sometimes we need something specific and it helps to know where to head, but in order to feel like we’re actually seeing something new and appreciate the quirks of that specific place, we need to encourage the homegrown delights and keep things interesting.
Watergate Street – Chester Elements
Feed your local economy
2. Research suggests that £10 spent at a local shop, results in £50 back into the local community. It makes sense right? Typically the business owners live in the same city or area and so spend their money in it – they also tend (though of course not always) to use local producers and suppliers – generating a thriving chain which benefits residents beyond just a great cup of coffee.
Bao Revolution – Chester Elements
Give to charity
3. Local businesses usually partner up with local charities. For example, customers at Meltdown can add £3 to their bill, which owner Laura uses to cook food for the homeless (via local set up Soul Kitchen). A prime example of a small business doing their bit to tackle local issues and help others – something we surely want to get behind.
Meltdown evening event
4. You’ll often find the owner(s) themselves hard a work. They built this themselves, took significant risks, encountered several setbacks, and still can’t believe it’s real yet – your support is massive to them – it can mean the success or failure of their dream. This is a key reason for me – I’m lucky enough to know many of the stories behind Chester’s independents and it makes visiting mean more. Owners know a lot of customers by name, remember orders, work crazy long hours, and care more about every person who walks through the door.
That Beer Place
It’s time for a change
5. A significant number of Chester’s foodie independents regularly change their menus, be it seasonally, because they want to experiment or just because they feel like it. Places like Bean & Cole always have a special item on the menu and a guest coffee available to try (and buy). The Chef’s Table frequently change things up – I’ve been many, many times and never had the same thing. Owners hold all the power and are able to flex things up and provide what their customers want – things never get boring.
Bean & Cole
Support the supportive
6. They spend a lot of time championing other local independents – just check out the social media channels of Bao Revolution, Chip’d or Elite Merchant Services – they have their own thing going on, but they’re all about their neighbours too. They champion and celebrate what’s good locally, and take part in a vibrant, inclusive community which is more about collaboration than competition.
Smaller Carbon Footprint
8. Local businesses are often better for the environment (Just Footprints has got to be a leader in this, surely – plastic-free). Produce hasn’t travelled as far which can mean it’s also fresher and a lot of customers will walk (or bike) over, rather than drive, cutting down on pollution.
Learn something new
Many of our local gems expand way beyond what they seem – coffee shops which run cupping sessions, music events, jam tastings and feature the work of local artists, clothes shops which hold talks on improving mental health, how to knit, jewellery making and a huge volume of activities (I’m talking about 2nd Floor here especially). They realise that in order to survive, they need to also offer experiences and connect with customers on several levels. We’re also big fans of Hanky Panky hosting the monthly performance poetry night, Testify, and the Plant Swap event which takes place at The Green Rooms (amongst other cool things). These places provide an awesome variety of things to see, do and experience.