Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Guest Blog: Happy Indie Christmas and New Year from Tag!

TAG! (Pass it on) is part of a growing ‘Shop Local’ movement which helps support local shops and services; a movement which is, in large part, rooted in a person’s attachment to where they live and their desire to see their area flourish.

In 2010 in the UK, £76 billion was spent on groceries; 80% in supermarkets. Supermarket ‘local’ shops are springing up everywhere as the major chains fight for an ever higher share of our spending in the current circumstances of higher grocery inflation and reduced disposable income. The result is an independent sector under siege.

Neither government legislation nor local issues such as increasing rents and parking price-hikes are doing anything to alter this situation. If we wish to save this vital part of our communities it’s up to us to make the necessary difference.
Independents are one-of-a kind, distinctive businesses; they’ve got character. It’s this character which helps attract other new businesses, residents, visitors and investment to the area.

Walk into a local Chorlton business and more often than not you are greeted and served by the owner, someone with a unique passion and knowledge of the products they are selling and the community they are serving.

When local community projects need support, our independents often come together to offer it and get things done. They are part of the very fabric of Chorlton and have a personal stake in its well being, guaranteeing that they act in the interests of the wider community.

On top of that, they bring disproportionate benefits to the local economy and job-creation. Simply put, money spent locally stays local: it will be used to make purchases from other local businesses, service providers, local professionals and suppliers.

If we are to have any hope of creating a resilient, green economy – a ‘network of local sustainable economies, providing social contact and inclusion with responsible local production and exchange of goods and services’ we will need a strong independent sector, accountable to the local area.

TAG! (Pass it on) is a not-for-profit CIC (Community Interest Company) which aims to encourage us to change our spending habits. For all of the reasons given above we created the TAG! card; for £5 you are rewarded with a huge range of deals and discounts when you shop with independents.

The variety and quality of the 50 (and counting) local independents in our scheme – as well as the 300 or so to be found in other areas of South Manchester - is amazing and the savings on offer from using your card and supporting them are HUGE; from essentials such as groceries, eyecare and cakes to fine dining, fashion, furniture, party items, flowers, toys, plumbing and even (clay pigeon) shooting.

Chorlton’s charities and community groups can make use of the Tagpassiton scheme to sell cards to raise money for their own causes. It’s a fantastic hyperlocal and community-focused way of raising money. Groups such as the Big Green Festival and St John’s Primary keep 50% of the proceeds when they actively promote shopping locally and independently to their supporters.

For more details about what we do, how we help and what you get please visit the TAG! website at www.tagpassiton.com. New TAG! cards can be bought online or locally at Village Dry Cleaners, A J Adams, Khawaja Bros, Chorlton Wholefoods and most other scheme members. If you register a new card before the end of the year you’ll be entered into our prize draw to win a bottle of fine wine from Village Dry Cleaners, a meal for 2 at Saray, and a fantastic Moroccan themed spa package from Creative Hairdressing. We hope you will want to join in, save money and show your support for all the local shops with your TAG! card.And since we’re entering the festive season let’s try and make this an Independent Christmas!

Carol Thompson is the Co-founder of TAG! You can follow her on Twitter at @tagpassiton or email her at carol@tagpassiton.com. Tagpassiton is a registered not-for-profit Community Interest Company that rewards for shopping smart, local and independent. More information can be found at www.tagpassiton.com . Image from Chorlton Community Index (http://issuu.com/communityindex/docs/ci_chorlton_dec_2011/27#share).

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