Elizabeth Jones, the owner of Natural for Baby, in her shop

Small Business Saturday: Supporting local enterprise in South London

Small businesses celebrated a day dedicated to their continued success across South London on Saturday.

It comes as part of the annual, nationwide Small Business Saturday campaign, which urges people to back small enterprises in their area.

Councils, politicians and activists highlighted markets, independent cafes and florists in their local communities, with Wandsworth Council even featuring a lavender and skincare products shop in one video interview.

Wandsworth Council cabinet member for communications Aled Richards-Jones, 32, said: “As a local councillor, I hear from residents that a key part of what makes Wandsworth so special is our thriving high streets, including the iconic Northcote Road in my ward.

“My message on Small Business Saturday would be: if you value thriving high streets and local businesses, support them!”

Richards-Jones, who represents Northcote ward, explained Wandsworth council got behind Small Business Saturday by encouraging people to shop and eat locally on social media and with window stickers.

He noted the council’s campaign also reminded residents shopping can be safe if they follow the Government’s Covid-19 guidance.

Richards-Jones said: “Small Business Saturday is so important because it reminds us how important it is to support local businesses.

“For every pound that is spent locally, 63p stays in the local economy – so shopping locally not only helps businesses, it helps the community too.”

SOCIAL SUPPORT: Small Business Saturday was promoted heavily on social media

Natural for Baby is a shop selling environmentally friendly toys, clothing and other products for babies and toddlers made by workers who receive fair pay.

The store, located on Balham High Road in Balham, Wandsworth, announced on Instagram it would plant two trees as a token of appreciation for every purchase made on Small Business Saturday.

Founded in 2014, Natural for Baby was a franchisee, until the franchise went out of business three years later.

Since then, Elizabeth Jones, 41, the shop’s owner and sole worker, has continued running her store independently and, like Richards-Jones, sees small businesses as being beneficial for the community.

She said: “I’m selling charity Christmas cards, and that money goes completely and utterly to the charity for a local neonatal unit.

“So, there is always that element of wanting to support local things like that.

“You’re not necessarily gonna get that in the big chains. They won’t support the small, little charities in that way.”

Jones said her shop also provides other useful services for locals.

She recycles bras for a cancer charity and is a drop-off centre for a hygiene bank, which offer cleaning and hygiene products to those who can’t afford them.

Jones added: “If people want variety and choice and if they want to buy things that are made well, good quality, sustainable, ethical and just have their local communities develop and grow, then supporting small businesses is a really good way to help that.”

She said Saturday had not been bad for business, though noted Small Business Saturdays are often quiet, explaining many Christmas markets are held at the same time.

In neighbouring Lambeth, Bramwells Fish and Chips Bar on Brixton Hill is the area’s only Black-owned chip shop.

A family business, Bramwells previously served Caribbean food, having launched nine years ago as Paradise Spice Caribbean Take Away.

It reopened as a chip shop in October under the name of the family’s late matriarch, though still offers Caribbean-style seasoning and some Caribbean dishes – keeping its past alive.

FISH AND CHIPS… AND MORE: Bramwells boasts a varied menu

Sandra Owusu, 40, one of the family members, was not aware of Small Business Saturday before the event, though felt it was important.

She said: “It’s important to spread the word to the community because sometimes people don’t know.

“We all have to play our part and, you know spread the word. Tell a friend to tell a friend.”

Owusu explained small businesses always struggle somewhat, adding: “The big businesses are established already, so that’s why they are big.

“The support needs to be levelled so that we can all share a bit of something.”

She called on councils to help small companies more, including on business rates – a tax payable on commercial properties.

Owusu’s sister-in-law, Shaneka Thompson, 32, is one of Bramwell’s grandchildren.

She said: “I want people to know that we’re Black-owned fish and chips just trying to make it in local business.

“We’d want and like the support of other people, and we’ll do the same as well because we don’t mind supporting Black businesses or anyone that has a small business to be honest.”

Featured image credit: Jackie Dale via Natural for Baby

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