Why it's time to think local and shop small in Leeds this Christmas - YEP Opinion
The Amazonian era of same-day deliveries and bundle buys is tempting many of us away from the high street.
There's a time for sitting in your pyjamas and tapping away to your heart's content - and that convenience is a welcome one, particularly for those less able to leave their homes, or stuck in isolation.
But the joy of stepping into an independent business and being greeted by a friendly face is unrivaled.
In an exclusive interview with the YEP this week, Coun James Lewis said: "I ask that people shop local. They did it a lot during the pandemic and it's imperative that they do it now.
"Whether it's a shop on the local high street or a stall on Leeds market, it really will make a difference in ensuring that we have a strong and diverse economy moving forwards."
Supporting Leeds indies this Christmas is much more than an act of service. They have so much to offer us.
Whether it's a personalised bunch of flowers for a loved one, a one-of-a-kind piece of jewellery or a freshly-baked selection of sweet treats, the shop owners and their staff will go above and beyond to find you the perfect gift.
And if they can't, they'll likely recommend another indy around the corner that can.
My first job was at an independent fashion shop.
I was a nervous 15-year-old, and still too young to handle any cash, but the skills I learnt (namely, talking to strangers) were invaluable and shaped me into the reporter I am today.
I had a wonderful boss who had built up a loyal base of customers who she knew by name, and she was as happy giving directions to a lost tourist as she was making a big sale.
That personal service is something that Leeds indies do so well. And, of course, many of them now have brilliant online services if you can't make it out the house.
Many independents put rivalries aside as they struggled through the pandemic, realising they are stronger together.
And the council is encouraging new entrepreneurs to step forward, providing training, mentoring and other forms of support for people aiming to develop their own innovative business.
We have to get behind them.
As Coun Lewis said: "People pulled together to support each other during the pandemic and as we look at coming out of it, it's more important than ever that people support, in particular, small and local businesses.
"It's part of that great community spirit that we have here in Leeds.”
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