Supporting Independent Businesses is for Life, not just for Small Business Saturday.

Today was Small Business Saturday and, despite us being a small business, we did nothing to promote this new High Street ‘tradition’.

The concept of Small Business Saturday was introduced to the UK from the USA, with the first event taking place in December 2013.  This was the year that I started the Chorlton Art Market and so I was involved with helping to promote the concept of encouraging people to shop at independent business for this one day.  This slightly patronising idea about shopping at ‘small businesses’ for one day out of 365 is my first issue with the idea of Small Business Saturday.

My second problem with SBS is the fact that it is actually a PR exercise by American Express, cleverly disguised as a social enterprise movement.  Since the age of 13 I have worked in various roles within independent business and I can’t recall any of those places accepting American Express payments due to higher processing fees than other cards.  We do not accept American Express at CAM for this reason.

I am not entirely convinced that Small Business Saturday does actually make people any more likely to shop at independent businesses than they would do usually.  I may well be wrong, but I quite simply haven’t had the time or the inclination to do any kind of promotion for it this year.

Promotion that does work well for a business like ours is, of course, consistent and regular social media updates and information.  Unfortunately at the minute our social media presence is pretty much dormant.  Due to a few unexpected events over the last couple of months, we have been preoccupied with other issues which has left the social media stuff being side-lined at a time of year when we should really be pumping up the volume.

BUT!…Even if we haven’t posted a slightly filtered photo on Instagram, or shared a tweet for a couple of weeks this doesn’t mean that the CAMhub isn’t as completely awesome as always – it simply means that we are crazy busy and trying to prioritise!  Making the shop work economically and ensuring that our artists are making good money, serving our customers 6 days a week and simply doing all the paperwork is not an easy task (as well as maintaining the basic requirements of 2 small humans) so please be understanding if it seems that our social media-ness is a bit quiet.

Right now the shop is absolutely jam-packed with an eclectic hoard of carefully selected giftware for all ages, along with the work of our amazing artists.  And if this wasn’t enough for you, Autumn’s Vintage Boutique is looking better than it ever has done, thanks to the hard work of our wonderful vintage ladies.  As a special treat for our customers, the vintage traders have come together to organise a special shopping day, taking place on Sunday 4th December – more info here:  https://www.facebook.com/events/365475820457367/

So come down, get yourself styled to vintage perfection and get all your Christmas shopping done under one roof with a glass of Jay’s famous mulled wine in your hand.  You can always support a small business, even if it isn’t Small Business Saturday!

 

 

 

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Why Brexit made me cry

I am not ashamed to say that I cried every evening for a week after the EU referendum.  In an attempt to avoid thinking about it for as long as possible, every evening I would prolong my children’s bedtime routine, read them an extra story and hug them for a little longer than usual.  But as soon as I sat down, there ‘it’ was – on the news and across social media and it felt impossible to escape from the confusion and chaos.

As the days rolled on, I found it harder – not easier – to digest.  I felt a weird sickness all the time and the moments I spent not thinking about it were fewer than the hours spent talking and worrying about it.  It got to the point, maybe 3 or 4 days after the result, whereby I was genuinely afraid of what each new day would bring.  Watching the news scared me.  With monumental events occurring so quickly and in such an unprecedented manner, it made it difficult to keep up and take stock of what exactly was going on.   Political analysts struggled to make sense of it all so there was no hope for me.

So, why did I cry every night for a week?  Was it simply because I was a sore loser?  Was it because I don’t like it when I don’t get my own way?  Or was it because I am a ‘lefty liberal’?  (just a few of the common jibes from some of those who voted Leave).  Maybe there is a smidge of truth in the first one, simply because I didn’t believe in a million years that we would have a Leave majority.  And of course, because of my lifestyle and social beliefs, I would be described by some as a ‘lefty liberal’.  But this is far preferable to the alternative term of ‘right-wing loon’.

The reasons I cried (and still cry now) are many.  I cried initially from the shock and the worry of the complete unknown, and then for the immediate spike in racists jumping out of their racist little closets, believing they were suddenly legitimised to spew out all their sick predicable bile at anyone who spoke a different language or had a different skin tone.  I cried for many personal reasons; our dreams of moving abroad in the future seemed suddenly less achievable, and the knowledge that our children wouldn’t be able to rock up in Amsterdam with 50 euros and get a job a few hours later, or pick strawberries in Denmark or have any of the other amazing experiences that I was able to have across Europe with ease.  The breadth of their futures were limited overnight.

As the news did begin to sink in, I also began to realise the potential effect it could have on our business – a business still in its start-up years and a business that would suffer greatly if we were dealt with another recession.  It felt like all our years of hard work could slip away from us because of something completely out of our control.

Overall, the thing that I feel saddest about is the fact that I now truly feel that I have nothing in common with a huge proportion of the British population, and the fact that things just feel different now.  I do believe that a large number of Leave voters did so based on issues surrounding immigration – some deny it, yet some wear it as a badge of pride.  From my exchanges with Leave voters, it seems that they do indeed blame immigrants for everything from housing issues, GP waiting times and school places.  But instead of directing their anger at the real people responsible – the government, they read their inflammatory News Corp headlines and tell Polish families to ‘go home’.  Instead of the culturally diverse and accepting society that we currently have, these people want the complete opposite. 

For me, the shock and grief has finally given way to a more productive anger.  Although my initial feelings were that I just wanted to run away and live in a forest, right now reality prevents this so we’ve got to battle on.  And besides, I never like to give up on things.  Admittedly I have limited my social media and news intake over the last week which has helped me to focus more on my business and worry slightly less about things that I really can’t control.  The more I know, then the angrier I feel about it all so I needed to take a step back.

Amidst all the chaos, a great many of us looked for a leader that we could believe in – something to cling on to when it felt like everything that was happening was just a frat boy game to many of our politicians.  I can’t even bring myself to write a blog about how angry I am at Cameron (a man who put his penis in a dead pig’s mouth – please never forget this), Osborne, Farage, Johnson and many others, so instead my next blog will be about the person whom I have chosen to put my faith in – the first politician I have ever truly believed in.  During these past couple of weeks, this politician has given me the only glimmer of hope and sanity in this sea of madness so I will be happy to explain my reasons for why I will be standing firm for Jeremy Corbyn.