Buying from independent shops in Axminster is ‘miles better’ than shopping on the internet and from big chain stores, according to the town’s Fiver Fest supporters.
They are poised to launch an innovative Totally Locally initiative across the town next weekend – and are urging local shoppers to look more closely at the origins of the goods they buy.
“If the supply chain is local, the money you spend is being pumped back into the community you love,” says Barrie Hedges from the Archway Bookshop.”
More than 30 local businesses are set to make £5 special offers during the Fiver Fest, which runs for a week from this Saturday (5 October).
The wider objective is to reinforce the key message that a small change in spending habits to prioritise local stores over the internet and chain stores would massively boost the local economy.
Traders taking part include businesses like Complete Meats, which sells locally produced free-range meat, award-winning sausages and deli products from its shop in South Street. Its near neighbour, Project Food (previously HALFF) runs a fruit, vegetable and local produce food hub which in turn funds its work with local vulnerable and isolated people.
Meanwhile, the Friends of ARC shop in Chard Road uses money spent by customers to reinvest in the community through its independent team of qualified therapists based at the Axminster Medical Practice.
But, perhaps, the champion in terms of the sheer size of its local supply network is the Courthouse Makers which operates from the old court building in Church Street.
Owner Pippa Galvin draws on more than 60 local makers for handmade homewares, artwork, gifts, accessories and jewellery.
She said: “I feel so fortunate to live within a landscape that inspires so much creative talent. I need look no further than our doorstep to source products.
Having the shop in Axminster for over five years has given me the opportunity to work with many local makers and showcase their unique handmade products.
“I believe having this close relationship with the community provides more than just a shop that sells ‘stuff’, and that each piece has its own story.
“Each of my makers in turn sources materials and services locally. With no air miles involved, the environmental impact is dramatically reduced, so the true benefit to our community is hopefully substantial.”
Totally Locally Axminster has welcomed the news in the past few days that Axminster Property is negotiating on behalf of a potential buyer for the Trinity House anchor store, which is due to close shortly.
Meanwhile, the Totally Locally team has been given permission from current store operator, Goulds, to place display materials in the windows once they are empty. It is talking to other local groups about how best to take advantage of the opportunity.
Jane Rockett, of Axminster Printing, says: “I honestly think that confidence is starting to come back into Axminster and if we can now persuade local people to throw their weight behind the individual independent shops then the future is very bright.”
Business owners who are interested in joining Totally Locally Axminster for the longer term can email TotallyLocallyAxminster@gmail.com. Information for the public is available from its Facebook and Instagram pages.
The Fiver Fest is the first event in the Totally Locally Axminster initiative.