As we return to normal, or the ‘new normal’ as it will no doubt become, I can’t help but wonder if the loyalty we saw towards the independent local businesses or indeed how we actually shop will stay the same or return to the ways of the past.
Since the onset of the corona virus epidemic and subsequent lockdown, it has become abundantly clear that within local communities, it is the small independent business that have gone the extra mile to get food and resources to people.
Whilst many large corporations closed for months, it fell to our greengrocers, butchers and the like to maintain the need for produce and in turn forced those businesses to find new and innovative ways to sustain that need.
These small produce-based businesses are no stranger to having to find ways to sustain their businesses, with the influx of cheaper options from larger chains and the wave of online options. The British high street has been in sharp decline from as early as 2012; the exception to this rule seems to be in smaller towns, mainly in more agricultural areas, where the population appreciates the idea of understanding the source of their food, from farm to fork.
This education it seems is vital to sustaining such businesses and putting an emphasis on value over cost and keeping a more conscious buying process amongst consumers. How do we keep people buying local? Engaging marketing and fancy slogans? Or by putting a name and face to every sale, every meal sold, every personal touch to a carefully crafted product?
Max Echeverria, previously a part of the Jersey Boys and International Events has created a company called Safe Events. He says “times have changed significantly, and the entertainment industry has been one of the hardest hit sectors. We have adapted our business model by providing a range of drive-in live shows to provide recreation for our local community in a safe way. Customers will watch from inside their vehicles and tune into a radio frequency to capture the sound through their car radios.” The company has also produced an app for customers to purchase food and drink during the performance with ‘contactless’ delivery to customer vehicles during the live performances.
It is a truly innovative way to adapt a business model to suit that changing times.
In Lytham, residents have championed local businesses by creating delivery, collection and covid friendly business directories offering reviews and recommendations, whilst local businesses have adapted their approach to suit the new climate and to ensure the safety of their customers.
Owner of Seniors Fish & Chips, Alistair Horabin said “Seniors had an online presence for over 13 month and when lockdown started, we went 100 % online and offered a contactless click and collect delivery.
“Online is here to stay, as is delivery and maybe the future is going to be pre order and more online producing…we have already investigated the next step and feel it will be sometime before we open in the restaurants.”
Now as the country begins to take tentative steps to normality, to attempt to recover economically as well as mentally depends on us as consumers continuing to support independent businesses that are the backbone of our country.
Lytham has an excellent, diverse spectrum of independent businesses from Gin to books, to flowers to photography; and by nurturing and supporting those businesses, rather than their corporate counterparts we are supporting and strengthening our communities, regardless of how unpredictable the future may be.
Written by Holly Hulme