As promised here is a list of the great independents I have encountered so far…

Rebecca Park, Fanciful Fox –www.rebeccapark.co.uk

Melting Moments – MeltingMomentsUK@gmail.com

MoonRiver Silver Jewellery – www.moonriverjewellery.co.uk/

Bella Bakers Boutique – www.bellabakersboutique.co.uk/

I also wanted to share two slightly bigger companies that I would highly recommend and who definitely fit into the independent Christmas spirit.

The Hive Network is brilliant and a great way to buy books online, avoiding the big brand alternatives whilst also supporting independent business. www.hive.co.uk allows you to find your book and then free of charge will deliver it to an independent bookshop within your local area. If you cannot find a bookshop on their store locater that is within an acceptable distance for you to travel then their delivery fees are very reasonable. (Their standard charge is £0.99p). I ordered through them last year and will do again because their prices compare favourably with other online outlets. They also sell stationery, e-books and DVDS and a percentage of every sale goes to an independent bookshop. You can even select your favourite local bookshop and if it is in their network then they will profit from your purchase. This is brilliant – a word I use a lot but sometimes the most simple and enthusiastic description of something is the only way to go.

A quick mention also for Firebox (www.firebox.com). Firebox is a haven for all geeks out there or all those folks who are still young at heart. To give an example of their product range you can get anything from a Star Trek pizza cutter to a fully operational Delorean from the Back to The Future trilogy (sadly it states on the website that the flux capacitor is not included). Started in 1998 as Hotbox by two university friends Michael Smith and Tom Boardman as a platform for their invention the Shot Glass Chess set (which I purchased for a friend many years ago and have many fond, yet hazy memories of) their business and product range rapidly grew. They have had a BBC documentary made about their success and now operate a head office in London with a staff and big annual profits, though they are still run by Messrs Smith and Boardman and retain an indie spirit. With their eclectic mix of products, from small dreams they have made a real and startling success, showing what hard work, drinking games and a creative mind can achieve. If Firebox were to sell to one of the big boys, it would be a shame but you could not blame their founders because they have worked hard and deserve every success.

It feels slightly uncomfortable when a favourite independent takes a walk to the dark side and signs on the dotted line with Coca Cola or Amazon (Innocent Drinks and The Book Depository spring to my mind here) but it is hard to begrudge the spirit in which these companies were founded. Who can honestly say that they would turn down an offer of several millions of pounds? I couldn’t. I don’t wish to knock people’s entrepreneurial spirit; in fact I wish to champion it! You can see from the wealth of creative businesses online, all the businesses that are run from home (or in the shed) there is a great spirit and determination to do something for yourself and not rely on someone else.

Let’s face it – We have all become lazy with our shopping trends with the few big companies monopolizing everything but if you look outside your window there is a wealth of talent and creativity in all walks of life. We can all start by having a very merry independent Christmas.

See you soon, with much love from John.

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