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Love Your Local- Share Their Stories

A quick Google search for ‘ #LffoveYourLocal ‘ will illustrate just how the growing sentiment for ‘buying local’ or ‘showing love to your local businesses’ has taken foothold in communities around the UK.  From Portobello London and Cambridge Market Square, to Norwich and Portsmouth; it feels as if various groups have taken big steps forward to  control their financial destinies while reliving ways of life that are part of British history.

Markets have a longstanding place in the towns, cities and villages of the British Isles.  They were the cornerstone of every major settlement throughout our history, with people bringing in goods to trade from surrounding settlements in order to sustain their families and communities. Market day still holds a special place in the hearts of people from all walks of life, as a place to shop but also to socialise, meet up with acquaintances and catch up on some gossip. Love Your Local Market started in 2012, and this blog is the first of a series which we will publish in support of this admirable cause.

A Personal Story (one of many)

I first started going to markets regularly late last century. Back then, Camden and Kensington market were the absolute coolest places to be. It was either rockers or punks or the trendiest fashion setters in London all hanging around on weekends. Camden has changed considerably since the Camden Canal Market Fire of 2008 and all that is left of Kensington Market is a wooden sign on the floor that can be seen through a murky glass window half boarded up that says: “In thanks to all its customers from past glory.”

Everything I bought there was locally made. I looked for local artists and designers, instead of choosing imports that could be found at every other market in the world. Of course, that was probably more because of my obsession with having my own unique style more than supporting local business. It was always easy to find the bright young entrepreneurs, they would stop for a chat and be happy to discuss the latest trends. I had no idea at the time just how hard it could be to get your own business running, or how easy for that matter, depending on how you approached it.

But something interesting happened to me before Kensington Market finally shut its doors for good. One of the retailers approached me one day and asked where I got the leather and jean jacket that I was wearing. I had made it myself, wanting something totally unique that would still fit in to a Bon Jovi MTV video. My first ever commission was born. I became a local artist. I was very excited to be getting my start in the same market where  Queen members Freddie Mercury and Roger Taylor had a stall once.

I spent ten days working non stop to prepare 15 jackets. I learned about sourcing materials, I hired someone to help and in essence became a business. My success was not stellar, though the things that I learned proved to be invaluable in later ventures doing much the same thing. The difference was that in later efforts I actually formed a company and used the avenues available to strengthen my product sales.

Many years and ventures have gone by, but market trading is stronger than ever. In fact the demand for locally produced goods has skyrocketed. People want to support their local artists but it is also about keeping money in the community and not sending it overseas. “Money works like blood – it needs to circulate around the local economy if it is going to keep it alive,” it’s been said. I myself always check where things are made or grown. Markets were once the backbone of local economies and the sense of community fostered by them is being rediscovered more every day.
Published Tuesday January 21, 2014