Why independent business is important to me.

Written by Sean Sturgeon (Marketing)

Growing up in Anfield all my life, I have seen so many independent places come and go – especially on Priory Road and Breck Road/Lower Breck Road. Once thriving social hubs for families and friends have now turned into somewhat derelict areas, ultimately being forgotten. In recent cases, The Cabbage Hall has now had a sizable renovation to spark interest into these areas with a decent turnaround – but still has it’s peaks and troughs.

Working as an independent can be a ‘sink or swim’ scenario and it is so easy for independents to be forgotten – or not even be seen to begin with. With the sheer quantity of chain restaurants for example, especially within the fast-food industry. A large portion of the public is more inclined to go to these places for the simple reason of ‘convenience’.

Over the past few years, Liverpool City Centre has been thriving when it comes to the wide selection of food/drink. So, what makes a great independent business and what makes them thrive? A great independent should provide customers/clients with an experience that is entirely unique. Originality can go a long way for an independent’s success – especially early doors in their infancy. Bold Street alone has so many unique venues with concepts and themes, but this in itself is a potential issue. These places can very quickly become oversaturated, leaving people to become burnt out.

Location is just as important as the concept for what you are offering. For example, the closing of Aloha – a once fan favourite for a ‘night-out’ has now turned into NQ64. NQ64 is an incredible gaming bar with a distinct feel that is entirely its own, and where it is based (Colquitt St) only enhances the experience as you walk down the steps for the first time. Whether it be the venue, the menu or your service as a whole – originality and the right location always goes a long way to stand apart from the bunch.

Independents’ allow the public to invest in the very community you are apart of. All independents are run by people, not a faceless entity. We spoke to Angela Mckay from Homebaked who kindly shared her thoughts on her journey as an independent:

“As a local business in Anfield, we make sure that we do our part in supporting other local businesses. We buy all of our veg locally – including local butchers. 80% of our employees are all local, including one staff member who is on an ILM programme (Intermediate Labour Market).”

“As with any business, there are bound to be peaks and troughs, so the challenge is especially potent during our quieter periods. We need to make sure that there is always enough investment to pay wages and stay afloat. This Christmas was especially challenging.”

Homebaked is a community bakery on Oakfield Road, within the hear of Liverpool’s L4 area and directly opposite Liverpool Football Club’s stadium. The community bakery is within a 10 minute from where I live and was once set to be demolished, it is now co-owned and produced by people working and living in the area. Their goal is to regenerate the high street ‘brick by brick and loaf by loaf’ – using money that is spent in the neighbourhood to benefit the community. Seeing this develop over time is truly inspiring, and always makes me smile when I see it busy on matchdays.

Bean Coffee, an independent coffee shop based in the office of where I am located, Clockwise in the Edward Pavillion building is a fantastic case study of a successful independent business that has been going strong for over 10 years.

Leah from Bean Coffee graciously gave their thoughts when it comes to supporting independents’;

“As an independent, it is crucial for us to reduce our carbon footprint as much as possible. When it comes to our weekly coffee deliveries to our stores – We like to ensure they are put on the same van as the food delivery that is going to that store for the day. This is to stop multiple trips to the same area. This allows us to reduce our CO2 levels.” Leah continued “We work with other local independents’ such as LEAF. In our stores, customers can purchase an array of Tea selections whereas customers of LEAF can purchase our coffee beans. This grants a feeling of connection for customers of both – providing a community feeling.”

So, in essence supporting independent venues allow customers a sense of community – making people feel proud of where they live and have a sense of accomplishment in knowing these places you choose to support is giving back to the community you live in.

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