By Ed Sills
Over the festive season I decided to set myself a challenge - to buy all my gifts locally. So, as the Christmas lights flickered on, I wrapped up warm, made my way into town and set about tackling a rather large shopping list. Part of me did this because I wanted to break out of the cycle of ordering everything online, but more than that I wanted to actually go into some of those shops that you regularly pass everyday without thinking and see what they had to offer. Instead of needlessly fighting my way through crowds of shoppers in Derby I decided to rethink my strategy and step up my game with some genuinely thoughtful ideas. During late opening new shops like J’adore ma vie were packed and their generous offer of mulled wine gave me a much needed break as I picked out stocking fillers for difficult to please relatives. I found unique Christmas cards in Time & Again, handmade picture frames in Ginger Jewellery and then chose out a selection of malt whiskies from Liquid Treasure. In the end it comes down to what you can afford and choice. I perhaps spent a little more than I would have, but I think the gifts I bought were better and the experience was considerably less stressful. Would I do it again? Yes, and I recommend that we all consider giving our local independent stores a chance to shine. It’s been a year since I started writing for the Belper News and I began with an article bemoaning the state of our high street and discussing ways in which it might move forward in the future. The good news is that a lot of encouraging steps have been taken over the past year. Local businesses seem to be using their initiative to really create a sense of identity in the town, particularly with the Totally Locally campaign. Though times are still hard, we experienced two extremely successful food festivals last year and a flurry of new shops and restaurants opening on and around our high street. Back to my original point, did I manage to complete my challenge? Well, honestly, no - I did end up cheating a little bit, but as we enter this New Year let’s all remember that shopping locally is not just for Christmas, it’s for the rest of the year as well.