Mayor: The independents need to be supported

Henley’s INDEPENDENT retailers need our support now more than ever, says Mayor of Henley.

Michelle Thomas is urging residents to buy as much of their purchases locally as possible, rather than using larger chain stores or ordering online.

It comes as Drifters Coffee House owners Talia Maguire and Millie Jeans have created a group on social media platform Facebook as a way for other freelancers to promote themselves.

They say there are members of the business community struggling in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, the cost of living crisis and a rise in chains moving into the city.

Councilor Thomas said: “I always buy independently and am fully behind them. I’m one of those unusual people who doesn’t have Apple products, doesn’t buy from Amazon, and refuses to buy from Starbucks.

“There are enough people and tourists in this town to have plenty of commerce for everyone, both independents and chains, so it bothers me to know that independents are struggling. Chains always support the city’s economy because they hire locals and I believe in choice – just because I don’t use chains doesn’t mean no one should. But I just hope people will consider independents more.

Ms Maguire and Ms Jeans started the ‘Support Independent Henley’ group and within a week more than 100 people had joined.

They hope it could become a forum for posting special offers and reviews to compete with the deep pockets of chain stores.

Ms Jeans said: ‘Everyone we spoke to said, ‘I don’t even know why we’re doing this anymore.

“We were feeling really, really depressed and thought it was time to try something else that would give people a place to find recommendations for independent places without having to sift through all the content on the channel. that affects a lot more people.” Ms Maguire said: “There is clearly a major push needed for support, so why not connect locals together?

“I think people are taking less risk and going straight to places they know they’ll like and they know what the prices will be.

“They know that a channel they’ve been to before will have the product they’re looking for, but the idea of ​​the Facebook page is that there can be an exclusive place to discover independents so people know what we do.”

Laurie-Jane Cann, the downtown manager, said from her conversations with businesses they were going through a “calm period” and that she was doing what she could to encourage residents to support them all along. ‘year.

She said: ‘I’ve spoken to businesses and there’s definitely a quiet time that comes around this time of year because of the summer holidays, but when it comes to self-employed businesses it’s hugely important that we use them because the fight for them can really be the thing. which causes them to lose their jobs.

She is currently creating a display map of shoppers so that people walking around town can see the selection in one place.

Ms Cann added: “The hope is that this will encourage people to look at what else is in town and even if they are just coming to Waitrose, to spend a few extra pounds at our wonderful independent businesses .”

About Glenda Wait

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