Post 5 – What is and why shop local?

Post 5 – What is and why shop local?

Since the start of the Cambridge Shop Local Challenge,which spontaneously grew out of a brief discussion, it has been fascinating reading the different ideas, views and issues the challenge to shop local for one week has generated . To view these please see the Facebook page Cambridge Shop Local or follow #CamShopLocal on Twitter.

What is shopping local?

To me it is shopping and supporting local independent shops and businesses as opposed to using supermarkets and large chains.

In the last week there has been various discussions on how people define such a challenge and whether they can contemplate being able to succeed. The idea is to have fun, explore the shops near you, discover what they sell and the quality of their goods or services. Those of us taking part want to see as many people as possible have a go, think differently about how they can shop and share their experiences.

Why shop local?

The driving force behind my desire to shop local has been to support local businesses by spending my money with them. Having until recently run my own independent business in Cambridge for two years I really valued the support of the local community and how great it was to use local producers as my suppliers. I really valued the quality of the ingredients I sourced, that they were from the local area and the buckets of enthusiasm, support and creativity their producers had.

The article that sparked the discussion about shopping locally was written by Harry Eyres in the Financial Times who talked about how the less he used supermarkets the better he felt. I must admit I do love having a chat with the butcher who tells me about the different cuts of meat and recommends ways to prepare them; or to the baker who baked my bread fresh that morning.

The other side of the debate has tackled the implications of a limited budget, opening times, availability of consumer goods and higher prices that can make shopping local an unobtainable ideal.  I want to use next week to measure the extent of these and to test if they have an impact on changing my shopping habits.


Post 4 – Recommendations from others

Post 4 – Recommendations from others

There has been a phenomenal response to the Cambridge Shop Local Challenge (2 – 8 April 2013) which launched last Tuesday during a twitter conversation between four people. In just a few days there is close to 50 people pledging to shop local for a week.

The challenge has raised lots of interesting discussions, including “what do we mean when we say ‘local‘”. I’m going to meet with a few people next week to talk through the different definitions and will feedback our ideas in a blog post.

For me it is great that so many people are taking part and I hope it encourages us to think about how we spend our money and to share our experiences.

The other benefit of discussing the challenge online are the recommendations people are making of places to shop in Cambridge and the surrounding area. It has also been great to hear from the local independent businesses who are getting involved.

So here is an ever-growing list (in alphabetical order) of recommendations and supporters.

Recommendations (I have received)

I have also been given a link to the Cambridge Carbon Footprint website where they provide a list of local food producers and retailers.

* indicates shops that I have not personally used

Supporting businesses (of the Cambridge Shop Local Challenge)

Since the #CamShopLocal a similar challenge is gathering momentum in Saffron Walden #SaffShopLocal

Local blogger Ozzy has also been compiling a list of local independents in Cambridge in a recent blog post.

If you have any recommendations or are an independent business wanting to support the challenge please let me know.

Post 3 – Don’t do it alone

Post 3 – don’t do it alone

Image_Eat Cambridge Back in January 2013 I was inspired to test my ability to shop locally by the work of Independent Cambridge directory and the Eat Cambridge food festival who are striving to demonstrate that Cambridge isn’t a Clone Town. Between them they have brought together a great selection of creative and innovative independent businesses from across Cambridge.

Image_Independent Cambridge

A group of Cambridge locals have pledged to shop local for one week starting on Tuesday 2 April. This will mean no supermarkets and no large chains. The Cambridge Shop Local Challenge came about through a discussion on Twitter on comparing how much we use supermarkets, how wish we didn’t and how we often struggle with certain items.

To find out who is involved follow the hastag #CamShopLocal on Twitter and pledge to join us by liking the CambShopLocal Facebook page.

Post 2 – Where to start

Post 2 – Where to start

Well there is no time like the present to get started, even if it is baby steps. I took a trip round the corner to Arbury Court.

1) blog_art of meatArt of Meat (1 shop) – run by Jon West who is a font of knowledge. He stocks local meat, with a variety of cuts and sausages he makes on site. I was making spaghetti bolognese and just needed meat (I had everything else in the cupboard – where I will go to replenish it is a good question.

Bought: 500g of minced Riverside Beef

Cost: £4.40 (Tesco £4.00, plus an offer of 3 for £10)

Notes: Great quality meat, especially in the taste (a lot more beef!)

2) Dorringtons Family Bakery (16 shops) – a family business established in 1919 whose shops are all within a 50 mile radius. I usually buy a Hovis white slice, but I must admit I do prefer a good granary loaf, which is hard to find in supermarkets these days (I’m no fan of the multigrain batch they seem to stock).

Bought: 1 large granary cob loaf (sliced for me)

Cost: £1.95 (Tesco Hovis granary loaf £1.45)

Notes: I am pleased that the freshness is lasting longer than expected

3) Les Ward Greengrocers (3 shops est.) known in the Cambridge area as they have a number of shops and a wholesale business. I was in need of a snack so rather than grabbing a chocolate bar from the newsagents I grabbed an apple. I was pleased to discover that they also had a range of pulses, grains and dried herbs from a local supplier.

Bought: 1 x British Gala apple

Cost: 20p each (Tesco 31p each)

Notes: It was cheaper!

4) LLyods Pharmacy (1,587 shops) not as small company as I thought (misperception on the high street  is something to be explored in the future). I have been meaning to go to the chemist and pick something up, so as it was there I did just that.

Bought: sundries

Cost: £3.29 (Boots equivalent £4.49)

Notes: Cheaper purchase, but still a chain. Independent chemists are probably a rare thing.

Lesson 1: a good reminder what is round the corner and interesting to find that some things can be cheaper.

Post 1 – What am I doing now?

Post 1 – What am I doing now?

So my shopping habbits currently include:

  • Amazon (books and presents)
  • Supermarkets (food and general domestic consumables)
  • High street clothes shops (when I get the chance)
  • Petrol (mainly from supermarkets)
  • DIY (large multinational stores)

Reasons why I shop as I do:

  • Convenience (likely to have what I am looking for)
  • Price (often based on comparison)
  • Speed (out of town parking, home delivery)

My current methods of shopping:

  • Food and domestic consumeables – monthly trip to the supermarket or home delivery, topped up by the local Co-op
  • Presents – often last minute and online for quick delivery
  • Clothes and DIY – when required and a trip to out of town shops (because they are open late)

Not a surprising set of answers and probably what you will hear from many people, but it is these habits that I want to challenge and explore in my own shopping. I can’t claim that I will be completly virtuous but I am going to give it a pretty good try.