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Last minute local shopping

All Areas > Health & Beauty > Vintage & Sustainable Fashion

Author: Lynda Rowland, Posted: Monday, 16th December 2019, 11:10

In Gloucestershire, we are lucky enough to have many small villages and local high streets with independent stores offering diverse and individual products.

The last Saturday in November was ‘Small Business Saturday’ but, as we approach Christmas, it would be a good idea to make the next few days all about shopping locally and sustainably.

If we make the effort to seek out a stylish and lovingly chosen gift for a friend or relative, they may well still be wearing it and associating it with pleasant memories of us for years to come. Sounds better than thinking of our purchase quickly being consigned to the bin with all the other easily identifiable crazes of 2019, doesn’t it?

Many small clothing stores and local craftspeople sell sustainably created items that are made to last, have their own style and heritage, and give you the satisfaction of benefitting not just the recipient but the seller as well.

Just because every women’s magazine is featuring grey bobble hats with faux fur pompoms or clutch bags embellished with sequinned flamingos, doesn’t mean that your cousin wouldn’t appreciate that lovely pair of pale pink alpaca gloves you carefully sourced from a talented lady at the village craft fair.

There are many sales and craft markets at this time of year and you can be assured that the hard work, time and love that the knitters, seamstresses, embroiderers, felters and other craftspeople put into their work is very rarely repaid in financial terms.

And whilst we are able to appreciate the fairy-lit outdoor locations or often draughty yet decorative village halls, remember the traders will probably have been on site since early morning, manning their stalls, and will still be on their feet until the close of the day.

Whilst we are on the subject of markets, a word of caution about all the German Style Christmas Markets which have been springing up lately.

I was recently in York, reputed to have one of the best examples of a German Market in the UK. However, I must say I found it rather disappointing. It was probably a good place to visit to sample seasonal food and drink but, amongst the retail stalls, there seemed to be an awful lot of what looked suspiciously like mass produced goods ranging from cheap, scratchy Christmas jumpers to very dull and uninspiring leather goods and faux designer wear.

So, if you are tempted to visit a market like this, seek out any local traders who may have stalls there selling truly home-made, sustainable items, and avoid the obviously factory produced merchandise that is probably being shipped across the world in huge quantities and leaving a costly carbon footprint.

Many craftspeople are now producing Christmas themed accessories too, so look for ceramic, glass and fabric jewellery as well as cosy sheep’s wool and alpaca gloves, scarves and hats from your local independent traders.

Another idea for jewellery gifts is to try a vintage clothing store. They often have good selections of brooches, necklaces and bracelets at good prices as well as pretty, embellished evening bags and purses.

There is currently an advertisement on TV encouraging us to patronise local high streets and independent stores. I expect it was inspired by the ‘Just a Card’ campaign launched in 2018 by British artist and gallery owner Sarah Hamilton. She had heard how a similar business had recently closed down, with the owner saying that if only everyone who had complimented her on her gallery and shop had bought ‘just a card’ she may well have managed to remain in business. This is particularly true in Cheltenham as rates, rents and overheads are forcing many small businesses out of our town.

So, let’s not wait for ‘Just a Card’ week or ‘Small Business Saturday’, but use these last few days of Christmas shopping to support our local shopkeepers, craftspeople and small traders and have a very Happy and Sustainable Christmas!

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