31 Dec

Fullfil all your New Year Resolutions in one – buy from independents!

Supporting local small businesses can be the all in one solution to fulfilling your New Year’s Resolutions,

by Liz Abell, Managing Director of the DR Company

As 2019 rolls around plenty of us will be making our new year’s resolutions, the majority of which will include variations on three or four principal aspirations: exercise more, eat and drink better, spend less and try to improve our lives and those of others. There will be a surge in gym memberships and an array of new diet plans available, and lots of people looking to achieve something for the better for themselves, their families and even their communities.

However instead of googling for the latest diet plan, or dragging out our running shoes, there is an alternative that can help us fulfil each of those main new year’s resolutions. Support your local small businesses. The DR Company have worked with hundreds of rural businesses of all sizes over the years and we are constantly impressed with the diversity of choice and the high quality offered by small businesses in Devon. These businesses are born out of innovative ideas and brought to life through determined hard work. What they very often offer are unique, bespoke, high quality products that are produced and supplied in sustainable, environmentally considerate ways, by local people who sell to the local community. These businesses are keeping rural economies afloat. Each consumer who supports these businesses not only contribute to maintaining a vibrant rural economy but also are making positive decisions for their own lives, and incidentally, managing to fulfil some of those most common new years resolutions.

Supporting local small businesses can help us exercise more: instead of ordering online, or driving to town, we could walk to our local shops (perhaps carrying our reusable non plastic shopping bags). By doing this we will find ourselves doing more exercise, helping the environment by reducing fuel usage, and supporting our local economy by buying from local retailers. While walking isn’t always possible for those that live in the most rural of areas, it is possible for many in villages and towns to walk to the local shop or post office, or to the high street.

Supporting local small businesses can help us eat and drink better: Once at the shops, we can all make a conscious effort to buy whenever possible from local British or regional food and drink producers. Whether we end up shopping in the supermarket, a farm shop or online, look for those products that have come from Britain, or even better, our own local areas. Within those purchases we can buy the products that are organic, sustainably and ethically produced, and supplied in an environmentally considerate way. By knowing where our food and drink has come from, how it was produced and the journey it has been on to get to our dinner table, we will be taking better care of our diet and our health, supporting British suppliers and benefiting the environment. Simply by stopping to think before reaching for our normal brand, we will be allowing ourselves the chance to consider whether there is an alternative and better buying decision to make, both in terms of health benefits, and environmental impact.

Supporting local small businesses can help us spend less: While organic food and drink, free range products and hand/homemade items can be more expensive than their counterparts, it is not an impossible task to make the swap and even save money. Planning meals before shopping and aiming to eat less meat but good quality meat is a simple way to achieve good food choices at an affordable price. Buying straight from source such as eggs from a free range local farm (those road side trust box stalls) is often a much cheaper alternative to buying eggs from a supermarket. Buying organic dairy products but consuming less of them will even out the price difference while saving your waistline. Buying organic fruit and veg out of season is a pricey way of shopping, so buying fresh groceries in season and means you will be eating less chemicals, at a cheaper price, and moreover they will taste better by far.

When buying gifts, purchasing from local small businesses often results in a more thoughtful and interesting present, and it will very often be beautifully packaged, unique or bespoke. There are literally hundreds of cottage industry producers offering everything from honey to handbags and there are scores of local Devon small businesses who offer interesting and alternative gift experiences. From Yurt breaks to seafishing, whittling to butchery lessons there is something to suit even the most fussy of friends and relatives. One of my favourite gift experiences from the range of small businesses the DR Company have supported is the gift of doing goat yoga at Dartington Dairy – there really is something for everyone to be found in Devon’s rural business community.

So while you are ruminating on the year just gone and resolving to do better in the year to come, consider the many benefits to yourself and others that can be reaped by simply shopping more at local small businesses. To start your search for small rural businesses, and find inspiration take a look at our website (www.drcompany.co.uk ) where the GDLEAF and South Devon Coastal LAG success stories pages have an interactive map showing just some of the businesses we have worked with in recent years.

Happy New Year from the DR Company!

Liz Abell
Managing Director of the DR Company