Residents and visitors to East Suffolk are being urged to ‘drink, feast, shop east’ this winter with a brand-new campaign created to boost local business.
‘Think Local’ is being delivered by East Suffolk Council through funding received from the Welcome Back Fund to support the safe return to high streets and help build back better from the pandemic.
The scheme will showcase a range of local businesses from across East Suffolk’s 12 towns during the next six months – with a particular focus on Christmas – and Woodbridge-based PR company Satsuma Group is supporting its delivery.
Cllr Craig Rivett, East Suffolk’s Deputy Leader and cabinet member for Economic Development said: “East Suffolk is teaming with incredible shops, award-winning pubs and restaurants and interesting places to experience. More than 80% of East Suffolk’s business community is made up of unique and exciting independent shops and we are fortunate to have a number of well-known heritage brands too.
“In the lead up to Christmas, and beyond, we would like to encourage residents and visitors to ‘Think Local’ and celebrate and support our local producers, retailers, brands and communities wherever possible.”
The campaign has been given a big thumbs up by shops across East Suffolk who are hoping Christmas trade will help them recover from a difficult 18 months.
Henry Mills helps run Mills & Sons and Daughters, a butcher and delicatessen in the heart of Southwold.
The business was established in 1684 during the reign of Charles II making the shop the oldest in the town with a lifespan of more than 300 years.
He said: “Quite truthfully shops like ours would not have survived as long as they have without the support of local people. We know we have something special to offer customers who understand about food provenance and like the connection that shopping locally gives them.
“All our meat is sourced from local farmers so it’s fresher and tastier than supermarket equivalents and we enjoy getting to know our regulars, helping them pick out their meat and giving them advice. You only get an experience like that from a local retailer.”
Ida McAleese, age three, always spends her pocket money in Lowestoft’s town centre and is particularly fond of the toy shop Toy Joy Oasis. Mum Lucy and dad Billy have lived in the town all their lives.
Billy said: “We always try to shop locally – especially at Christmas – because visiting real people and having a tangible shopping experience is not possible online.”
This sentiment is echoed by Jill Borrett who works for Platts Fruit and Vegetables on High Street in Leiston.
She said: “Most of our produce is grown locally and we often get discounts from suppliers which we can then pass on directly to customers. These are the things that local businesses can do to develop relationships and foster loyalty.”
Rose Brenchley works for Reed Books on Aldeburgh’s High Street. At 23 she is urging young people to consider shopping on their high street instead of from their phone.
“Often the older generation embrace what’s on their high street but younger people are too wrapped up in the instant world of online shopping. They need to look up from their phones and experience what’s in front of them.”
If you are unable to get to your nearest high street this winter, you can still support your local businesses by using Click It Local East Suffolk, a new virtual high street service.
Launching on Thursday 2 December, Click It Local East Suffolk has also been funded by the ERDF Welcome Back Fund and is supported by East Suffolk Council.
Residents anywhere in the district can use Click It Local East Suffolk to buy from any participating local shop and have it delivered on the same or next day. From weekly food essentials, gifts and treats to last-minute basics, customers can buy everything they need from as many shops as they like, with one payment and one delivery.
Businesses interested in signing up with Click It Local can contact [email protected]
To support the ‘Think Local’ campaign, share your favourite shops, restaurants, pubs, bars and experiences with the wider East Suffolk community on social media using #ThinkLocalEastSuffolk