Make the most of the unique independent retailer sector.

As another Independent Retailer Month passes, it would be easy to look back on the campaign with fond memories, and look to the future with a “business as usual approach.”

But one of the things this July has taught us is that supporting your local independent businesses all year round has never been so important. So let’s look at the some of the challenges and opportunities facing local retailers.

The changing face of shopping – Internet v High street

Even before the current economic crisis and the resulting condition it has left many high streets in, the way we shop had changed. Shopping online was always going to be huge. Shoppers want more for their money, and on-line retailers who don’t have the overheads of us local stores, will always be able to pass those savings on in the form of lower prices.

But the great hope for local shops is that nobody wants to stay indoors the whole time. For women in particular, a lot of their social life is based on being outside with their friends – shopping is always going to part of it. That’s where local shops can really come into a league of their own.

As well, we would always advise that it’s much better to purchase jewellery in person, especially something as particular as an Engagement or Wedding ring. Chances are we will have more experience than a faceless online retailer, and will ensure you get the best quality possible for your money. By all means look for ideas online, but rings are not like electrical items; each one is unique and needs to be touched, held and admired! You’ll often find unique pieces too.

Edward Peters, co-owner of Ace Jewellery comments: “We feel that we offer the type of service and warm welcome you only get from a family-run business. Because we have a low staff turnover, our staff always remember our regular customers – you don’t get that welcoming smile over the internet!”

If there is one thing we have learned in over 30 years in business, it is know what you do best and keep doing it! So although the products we stock and the services we offer have changed over the years, our loyal customers know that they can rely on us for the same great service and great value they’ve always had.”

“You just cannot put a price on personal service in a situation such as where Mrs Baker will come into the showroom and say: “you know that great pair of earrings you sold me last week, I now need the matching bracelet.”

Doing your bit – locally sourced

So what is independent retailer month? Independent Retailer Month is a global ‘Shop Local’ campaign that runs throughout July to highlight the important role smaller, local, independent retailers’ play in the communities they serve, the local economy they contribute to, and in the retail sector as a whole.  There are a number of ways that you as a shopper can support us and other local retailers when you shop with us.

Of course much of our retail jewellery and diamond Engagement & Wedding Rings are sourced from a local business. Also, when you bring in your jewellery in to us for repair, we have our own in-house workshop unlike many other jewellers. This means that the work is hand repaired locally, and often by locally employed staff. This is also the case when we design or re-model your jewellery.

We can’t argue with the fact that big shopping centres offer free parking and a lovely warm area where you won’t get rained on! Town centres like Leeds though, have beautifully-restored and quaint buildings and arcades, as well as a vibrant culture that surrounds the unique cafes, restaurants and pubs – and of course fresh air!

So why not broaden your spending habits and visit that small independent retailer’s shop that you may have been walking past all these years. We’re confident that once you’ve had a taste of that unique experience, there’ll be no going back! After all, we don’t want you to look back one day and say “Oh how I do miss the shops in town.”

You can find out more about how you can support your local high street by visiting the Independent Retailer Month website here.