Online versus local - do you have to choose?

We are all busy, right? Every single one of us. Even my 77-year-old mother and five-year-old daughter will tell you they’re strapped for time.

“Oh you know, it’s all bit hectic at the moment.” In 2016 that’s the guaranteed answer to the inevitable, "How are you?" question.

We have:

- Partners

- Jobs, sometimes more than one

- Children

- Extended families

- Friends…

The list of commitments and demands on our time is boundless. And yet… as socially conscious, morally upright individuals (as I know all of you reading this are), we want to do the right thing:

  • Shop locally
  • Support small businesses
  • Make those corporate behemoths who pay scant tax in our country feel the chill of our neglect…

Balancing lack of time and social conscience

But how do we manage that when there simply aren’t enough milliseconds in the day to physically traipse around looking for those locally produced or sourced items that will benefit us in some way:  

  • the ingredients we need to make nourishing meals for our families
  •  the perfect work dress
  • the silver tissue paper for the school space project
  • the bottle of wine for the weekend
  • the kind of notebook we prefer (you know, the one with the lines spaced perfectly apart…)
  • …and everything else that makes our ever more complicated lives run


For convenience we can often find ourselves turning to the obvious websites - the Amazons, ASOS and Tescos of the world - and there is a place for that. It would be akin to trying to fit making your own butter and yogurt into your already jam-packed life to completely avoid them but, for balance, and for the peace of mind of knowing that your pound is actually going somewhere worthwhile, making a difference, helping to sustain and grow the economy, there is another way.

Online retail can be the solution (as well as the problem)

These days so many small and local retailers also successfully sell their products online. Even if you only have one or two in your life, a couple of favourites you support because you love their products and services and want to see them thriving so that you can continue to enjoy their wares, do it!


Yes, there is the initial set up process and, you know, those big companies already have your PayPal details so you can save five minutes, but with most small online retailers, once you’ve set up once, you don’t need to repeat the process, and every time you click through to buy you will have the satisfaction of knowing that you are supporting people who are not only making a difference to the future of the economy but who are experts their field, committed to their specialist products, producing and sourcing the very best.

Here are some of my personal small online retail heroes:

Closet London - - a small East London company producing gorgeous, good quality clothes for work and play and offering amazing after sales service.

Bartrum’s Stationers, Hay-on-Wye - I love browsing the shop when I’m there for the festival, but it’s such a comfort that I can still enjoy their products when I’m back home.

The Algerian Coffee Company - - a tiny coffee roaster in Soho that supplies the best (in my humble opinion) coffee in London. Amazing customer service (and they once sent me a branded cloth bag - guaranteed loyalty for life).

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