Independent retailers are at the heart of Harlow’s community, we have over 30 here in The Harvey Centre and there is a variety of other independent retailers in the town. These retailers aren’t big corporations, they are your neighbours, some are your friends, they are the people you pass by every day and say hello to. Local independent businesses are a valuable part of our local economy, they offer a more personalised service with more choice than national chains can, so it is important that you support independent retailers.
By shopping local, you are helping to support somebody who decided to take a risk and set up their own business. This support is what builds a sense of community spirit, which Harlow definitely has. You aren’t just giving your hard-earned money to a company board, you are giving it to someone who has worked hard to provide you with a product and helping them to continue to do so. You are essentially helping a local business owner to provide for their own family and to become a success. Which, in turn, these local businesses are more likely to be the ones who get stuck in and help out with local causes such as fundraisers and events.
You can also find some hidden gems that you may not find on the high street. The high street offers a lot of replicas of the same product due to the way they are manufactured. With independent retailers, you can find something unique that not many other people will have bought too. It’s nice to know you’re spending your money on something a bit more original.
Harlow is home to an array of local retailers serving in different sectors, from food and drink to fashion to homeware – there is plenty of choice for you to shop locally. Here at The Harvey Centre, we have over 30 independent shops and we’re proud to house so many. You can also find out about the other local independent retailers we have in the town over at Harlow Shops Local, an initiative set up by Harlow District Council to make the community aware of the fantastic shops available locally.
We spoke to Keith at Marquee Models to find out what his view was of being an independent retailer in Harlow, here are his thoughts:
It is massively good for the community, if you have a shopping centre where everything is the same as close by shopping centres then you have no special reason to visit here. Talking as Marquee Models, we bring a unique range of products to The Harvey Centre, we do the Pokemon league every Sunday morning, we do Hornby railways and modern hobby products. So, we bring a very diverse range of people into The Harvey Centre. Whitehouse is another great shop that offers a range of specialised clothing, again they are offering another range of products that will bring people here.
We’re still in business so I definitely think so. It’s incredibly important to support your local retailers, as they have a passion for the product that they are selling, and offering a diversity in the market is what will bring people to the area.
It can be challenging being an independent as you tend to specialise in one product or field, and with the internet, it’s incredibly challenging because there is lots of competition online. Before the internet, if you were a specialist, people would come great distances to see you, now it’s a simple case of ordering online. The other side of that coin is a lot of people want specialist knowledge or help on these products, it’s all very well buying online and yes it’s cheaper – but if you want some help or advice then independents have that knowledge and generally want to help you with your purchase. We ask the questions, we find out what you need, and that’s what I think independents bring to the high street, they bring a passion for the product they sell, mostly they tend to be owner-operated like me, so they are very invested in great customer service.
Do you support your local independent retailers? We want to know your opinion on them, so get in touch with us on our social media pages.