A BS6 mum has recently set up a community group to encourage local residents to ‘shop local’ rather than shopping online, both this Christmas and in the long-term future.
Alice Darley has set up the group, Shop Local Gloucester Road, which aims to act as a platform for matching your shopping ‘wish list’ with local traders on and around Gloucester Road who can fulfil your wishes.
Alice explains: “I love my neighbourhood and the community feel of Gloucester Road, and its thriving local independents is a big part of that. I wanted to see if my high streets experience could help ensure Gloucester Road stays thriving.
“The idea really came from personal reflection – as a busy working mum I found I rarely had time to trawl round the shops to find something if I didn’t already know where to go, so I’d resort to Amazon or ebay for convenience. I had this idea that if there was a way of asking who stocks something, let’s say PVA glue, then it would make shopping on the local high street a more realistic prospect.”
Alice’s career has given her sound knowledge and experience of helping high streets thrive. Ten years ago she led on the national regeneration policy for the Government, which included being involved in the drive to support local high streets.
She acted as Government link to the Bedminster Town Team, and attended some of the meetings of Gloucester Road Central in a semi-professional semi-local-enthusiast capacity. She also wrote the publication “Re-imagining Urban Spaces to Help Revitalise Our High Streets” and spoke at national conferences of town centre managers, business improvement district managers, local authority officers and traders.
Shop Local Gloucester Road has been met by huge support from local residents and has achieved great success already, to date reaching 1.2K members including both local residents and traders, thus helping local shops and businesses to thrive despite the second lockdown.
Alice explains: “We soared to 1000 members in 6 days and, after a shy start the first day, we have seen a steady flow of wish lists and matches. Whilst it’s impossible to know the precise amount of Gloucester Road purchases this group has led to, I have gone through the feed and counted over 70 wish lists and items sought and sourced on our amazing high street in our first week.”
The group, which is free and which anyone can join, works like this:
- Potential shopper posts up a message in the group stating the items or services they are looking for.
- Local shops and businesses reply if they have this item or service available.
- The shopper and vendor then, between themselves, arrange arrange payment and handover of the item.
Alice has had positive feedback from the local community: “The feedback has been fantastic – from members of the public who like me are finding it makes it easier to shop local, and from several of the traders who have been saying how much it is boosting their sales during this difficult time.”
Many new members have already posted on the group, stating which items they are looking for, for example, toys, clothes, shoes, household items, art and food/drink, and have successfully found traders who stock these items and arranged payment and collection.
As well as helping Gloucester Road’s independent shops and businesses to thrive, the group has brought the local community together, creating much discussion and also a great source of shopping advice and inspiration for residents.