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November 27, 2019
I was shocked (but shouldn't have been surprised) to learn that only 1 in 20 Black Friday deals offer a genuine discount, according to a recent Which? report.
95% of the Black Friday deal items we investigated - which included popular tech, home and personal care products - were available for the same price or cheaper in the six months after...
And, while you might expect some products to fall in price over time, we also found that 61% of the items had also been the same price or cheaper in the six months before Black Friday.
In fact, just four of the 83 products we tracked were at their very cheapest price on Black Friday.
That would be reason enough to raise a skeptical eyebrow at the onslaught of Black Friday deals, discounts, promotions and marketing strategies.
The other reason is more existential. Ethical, even. Hell, environmental. If there's something we need, we've researched prices and we know we can get a useful discount, well, that's great. But aren't we weary of the constant persuasion to own (and store, and organise, and clean) more stuff? Will that discount truly satisfy our needs and wants and support us in living a life we value?
And does that discounted product support other people in living a life where their needs are met? Who made it, what were they paid to make it? What of the earth was spent in order to make it? At what cost? And what happens when we're done with it?
I believe we must - and we have the power to - actively create the kind of world we want to live in. How we spend our money is where a large part of our power lies.
I want a world full of diversity, of originality, of well-made items bought from a person with a name and a face, a dream, a family and a business that I can support.
I want towns with small independent businesses and a network of mutually supportive creatives.
I want to be valued for what I do as a maker. I want to earn a living that fairly remunerates the value of my skills, expertise and time, not to mention the cost and value of the materials I use to make my books.
So, at any time of year, but especially around the run up to Christmas and the Black Friday discounting period, if you have money to spend, shop local, shop independent, support small businesses, choose handmade and sustainable wherever possible.
Small Business Saturday falls on the 7th December this year (it takes place on the first Saturday in December) and their website can help you find small businesses to support in your area.
A small purchase makes all the difference. That's the premise of the Just A Card campaign created by Sarah Hamilton, and JAC's #IndieWeek. Spending a relatively small amount - say £5, £10 or £15 - makes a difference to your local community.
When you buy 'just a card' from a gallery, a bookshop, a lifestyle store or similar, you help it stay open. That doesn't just mean there's a nice place to browse and buy a vase, or that the owner has a place to work, or that the makers and artists and writers might earn enough to pay their bills that month.
Shopping independent also means that your town is a nicer place to live. It means your high street has one less Costa (other coffee chains are available), one less charity shop (we all love a Chazza Challenge, but how many charity shops does one town need?), one less boarded-up, sad little eyesore representing downturn, lost opportunities and absence.
And even more than that, shopping indie means you voted with your pennies and pounds for originality, diversity, genuine human connection and perhaps a little wonder, too.
Choosing to spend your money with a local business helps to build sustainable, thriving, financially viable communities. When you make a purchase from a local business, around 68% of that money stays in the community. This compares to 43% when you shop at a national chain (Independent We Stand, USA statistics likely to be similar in the UK and similar countries).
If you don't have money to spend, I hear you! Let's face it, very few creatives are rolling in it. But we can still make an invaluable contribution to creating the world we want to live in by supporting indie, local, handmade and sustainable makers and small businesses in other ways.
If you've bought an item from an indie business in the past, take two minutes to write a glowing review on their Google page (search for their business then click 'write a review' on the right hand of the page). You can write a review for my business here, for example. You could share a picture of that lovely thing you've enjoyed using or wearing for years, too!
If you haven't bought anything from them at all, you can be of enormous support by simply telling all your friends, family, colleagues, neighbours and dogs (not really) about their work. Like and comment on their social media posts (it helps them get seen) and then share their posts to your own accounts.
That's exactly what I'm doing. Take a look at my recommendations below; I hope you'll visit their websites and find some wonderful Christmas gifts. All these independents offer delivery by post and I can vouch for a lot of them as I have given many of their beautifully made items as gifts over the years (marked with an asterisk).
I should say that my Ready to Ship collection is also a good place to buy a Christmas gift! I run a genuine sale once a year in January, which is often how my longstanding customers are able to continue shopping with me year on year. If you sign up to my newsletter you'll be the first to hear about it. I also offer 'seconds' for sale where appropriate.
I am truly grateful for everyone's decision to shop with me. And thank you for reading this blog post. Scroll down to sort out your Christmas shopping and help create the kind of world you can love.
+44 (0)7748 759371
IndieWeek from JustACard
Debby Kirby* woven silk items
Toad Hall (vintage clothing & furniture)Blandford Forum
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