‘Why Should I Shop Independent?’
With the launch of Topshop’s new wedding range there have been huge discussions across the wedding world about the role of the highstreet in your wedding. Some in the industry are outraged that Topshop and other highstreet stores are encroaching on their specialist area of expertise, others welcome the competition and diversity. Whilst it’s generally accepted that flocking to the highstreet for certain wedding items, bridesmaid’s shoes or hen do costumes, is the norm, some wedding couples may only consider mainstream or highstreet suppliers when shopping for their wedding, unaware that there is a whole other world of wedding wonderfulness out there - the world of the independent business. Whatever you think of the Topshop wedding range, whether you love, hate or feel totally indifferent towards it, we want to show you how and why you should consider going independent.
‘Why should I shop independent?’ was a question I was recently asked by a bride-to-be who had just got engaged. My reaction was to blurt out so many words at once that it came out as a garbled noise accompanied by my arms flying up in the air. Having ran an Etsy business for many years, I feel very passionately about supporting small business and the values and ethos that goes with it. I know from my own experience how wonderfully talented our small business owners are and just how much they can offer wedding couples in so many ways. Trying to encapsulate years of experiences into a one-sentence answer to the question ‘Why should I shop independent?’ is very difficult, so I am instead going to put it into a blog post.
Get What You Want - By going independent, it often means you can get exactly what you want and I mean, exactly! Think of the colour, size, detail, shape, quality, feel, you name it, some talented person somewhere will be able to make it for you. If you buy from a large corporation it will be the same as all the other stock of that design, which may be fine. However, if you buy from a small business you have that flexibility to request changes. They usually offer a bespoke way of working allowing you to make design or colour changes or request something totally new that you wouldn’t get from a larger business. So if you want a pair of shoes that perfectly match the colour of your flowers, a smaller business can do this for you. If you are looking to have a totally unique wedding dress, buying off the rack is not going to be the best way for you, go independent. Are you looking for a unicorn wedding veil? Yes it does exist, you can have it made to order and here’s where you can get it. So my point is, that by shopping independent, you can get something totally unique, designed to be what you want and because of that, it makes it really special.
Get looked after - A common misconception is that in buying from a small business, you will get something less, actually, in most cases it means the opposite. Smaller businesses often have fewer clients, making you that bit more special to them as a customer and they therefore pay more care and attention to your needs. They also rely on word of mouth and a positive customer experience to keep their business going so will make sure that you have the aftercare that many larger businesses neglect. Lastly, because their business is their business and not someone else's, they want to make sure you are happy. They have gone into business because they love what they do, they have a passion for it and are good at it - this is great motivation to make sure that you, the customer, gets the best service/item possible.
Get experience, talent and creativity - When buying from a small business you are buying from someone who is an absolute expert in their area. They don’t tend to offer a wide range of different items/services like a highstreet brand might, they have a focus and it is this special thing that you get when you buy from them. Small business owners in the wedding industry are true artisans and will create something really special for your wedding day.
Get money-wise - Shopping small often means your item/service is around the same price or potentially even cheaper as they have less running costs and are therefore able to keep prices down. If you do have to pay more to a smaller business, it is because you are getting more. You are getting that persons time, experience, creativity, quality materials and expertise that you don’t get in an item that is mass produced.
Get supportive – Lastly, in buying small you are supporting your sister who runs a wedding stationery shop on Etsy, your friend down the road who makes wedding favours, the woman who has attended night classes to learn how to make the best bridal headpieces in the world, the man who has worked for twenty years in award winning kitchens so that he can set up his own catering company, you are supporting people who make, create, do, love and share - not huge corporations ran by people no-one knows who simply take your money. (Just for the record, the Arcadia Group who own Topshop had an annual turnover of £2,069 million **accounts filed 2016** I can't even comprehend that amount of money!). I know who I would rather be supporting.
I'll finish off by saying, I didn't intend to write an anti-Topshop/highstreet piece, (although it seems to have turned out that way just a little bit!). What I did intend to do was to hopefully open your eyes to a fantastic alternative to the highstreet. Obviously, there is no right way to plan a wedding, everyone is different and everyone is free to source their wedding items and services from wherever resonates with them. I hope I have made you think about the possibility of supporting small businesses near you and how it can be beneficial to do so.
If you know of any fabulous small businesses near you, please share their links in our comments, we love discovering new talent! And don't forget, everyone we support at And so to Wed is a small business, so if you want to shop small, why not start here?
Written by Louise Daniel