We have always loved our local businesses, both the people who work so hard to run them, the wonderful and in many cases unique products and services they provide, the boost to the local economy they give us, and of course the vital contribution they make to our high streets and our community.
We’ve therefore always been big fans of Small Business Saturday, a day when the whole of the UK has a chance to celebrate their small businesses. The fact that this Saturday has tended to fall on the day of the Forest Gate lights switch on makes the whole thing even better. 2014 was our first year – we were new to all this, and at the last minute Seyi reminded Rachel and Ellie that it was small business Saturday. So as we hung out at the marketplace for the lights switch on, we also nipped into some local businesses to take and tweet some selfies. In 2015 we ran our first proper campaign #forestgateshoplocal and were delighted when local residents joined in, tweeting pictures of their purchases and creating a buzz. Last year was our biggest yet! Supported by some funds from the Newham Regeneration Team, we ran #fgshoplocally where you could collect stickers, and claim freebies, from a coffee to a Forest Gate canvas shopping bag.
This year, we’re going back to basics with a social media campaign, reusing last year’s hashtag #fgshoplocally and we’re also encouraging people in Maryland to be involved, using #marylandshoplocally.
All day we will be tweeting and retweeting information about our local businesses and shops, aiming to raise awareness of the wealth of products and services available that make this such a great place to live.
The market will be open during the day and in the evening for the Christmas lights event, and will be taking collections for the wonderful Magpie Project. There will also be a very exciting event ‘Oh Come All Ye Gateful‘ in the old CoffeE7 building that will be a forum for local makers and crafters. If that’s not enough for you, there’s an event on Winchelsea Road on Sunday too.
If you’d like to be involved, there are several things you can do:
- join our Facebook event, which is here: https://www.facebook.com/events/891268284381529/
- Tweet using our hashtags! #fgshoplocally or #marylandshoplocally
The more people using these hashtags, the bigger the buzz we will create. Take pictures as you go out and about, and share the places you visit and any purchases you make.
- If you are a local small business owner, please promote yourself using the hashtags too. We always love to hear from you, but especially on Small Business Saturday.
- If you are a small business with a special offer or special event on Saturday, then please post it on twitter and on our facebook page.
And finally, and most importantly, when you are spending money this Christmas, please remember our local small businesses. We know that times are tough for many people, and there are lots of people in Forest Gate with less money than ever to spend this year. We don’t want anyone to feel excluded from these campaigns, so if you’re feeling the pressure then please know that you can still be a part of helping.
If you can make lots of purchases, or large purchases, then that is really great. But that’s not possible for everyone, and part of this campaign is to say that every single purchase counts, and every bit of support counts. Buying ‘just a card’ from your favourite local artist, or buying not your whole food shop but one or two items from the market, popping into an unfamiliar shop and trying something new, this all really helps. If you can’t make any purchases, then please just raise awareness of our shops, tell your friends and neighbours about your favourites, and tweet pictures of the places you’d like to support.
We look forward to seeing you out and about, and to seeing pictures of your purchases on Saturday!