Monday, 9 July 2012

Totally Locally. Or As Locally As Possible in our case...

Today the brand new Totally Locally shop and café opens at Dean Clough. This is great for lots of reasons: Dean Clough's a fantastic collection of mills, very significant in Halifax's history, and deserves more brilliant companies there to attract visitors and increased use; shopping local means cash stays local; reduced transport costs mean lower prices and a healthier environment; shopping local might just help re-build a sense of local community. Plus the Totally Locally shop crew intend ploughing profits back into the area. I'm sure there are even more reasons to support this venture. Mike and I will be moseying down sometime this week for a look around and a coffee and something delicious.
I'll be honest, I have questions about what's happening that don't seem to be answered in any of the website info: I feel like I want to understand the ethos more thoroughly than I do at present. What are the aims and how will they achieve them without damaging other local suppliers that aren't included on their favoured suppliers list? How will competitor shops fare when the TL shop is selling the same things and open for longer hours? I don't know, but I do have faith in the TL ideal and the good intentions of the movers and shakers involved, so maybe that's all taken care of behind the scenes? Anyway, overall, yeah, I think it's a great idea.

And it made me wonder about what we sell in Three Bags Full that's local. We do obviously use a lot of local companies for undertaking any work we need doing - the electrics, the decorating etc - it's all been done by local firms and one-man bands. But what about the actual stock? Well, there are some problems with wool - we can only stock what we're able to buy and it has to be of a certain quality. There's probably more, but this is what I came up with without thinking too hard:

Pretty beaded stitch-markers - crafted locally
Woodland Whiteface - spun and supplied locally
Blue Faced Leicester DK - locally supplied
British Breeds arans - locally supplied - these are getting harder to get hold of nowadays but I've sourced another local supplier for when we've sold the present stock
Hipp kits - crochet bag kits supplied by local crafter and designer
Sheepy notelets - made by me, from photographs supplied by my very talented husband!

In addition to those, we deal with several bigger companies within the region - Designer Yarns and Cygnet are both in the Bradford area, for example. I can't claim their products are 100% local but things are moving in the right direction: Designer Yarns are introducing  a locally spun Debbie Bliss BFL aran for their winter collection which we're hoping to stock when we're able.

So local products for local people - shopping's coming full circle and it's great, isn't it?


  1. Hi Kath, thanks for the plug. I realise we haven't pushed the ideals through as clearly as we should have, but as you know we all have day jobs, and Totally Locally is something we do as a side project to our jobs. We want the place to grow to be somewhere where people like you can get your message across. It's about competing against the Sainsbury's Local / Tesco Metro, not independent traders. We want to give people a locl alternative to that. We will be highlighting all the great shops and businesses we have come across over the Totally Locally campaign, and we have already invited some other shops to bring their products down (a great shoe shop for one). Bear with us, this is unchartered territory. We will get stuff wrong, but hope it's outweighed by the things we get right.
    I hasten to add, this isn't for the Directrs of Totally Locally to make a load of money. We all have our own businesses, and we know how hard it is to make retail work! You all have our admiration.

    We don't have a favoured list at all. We invited loads of people to work with us, and were really surprised how few even bothered replying. 2 suppliers even didnt bother ringing us after our order was agreed, and we had to find new suppliers as late as Friday for our Monday launch!!

    The thing is, those that got enthusiastic at our crazy idea in the early day were bound to work with us. Our idea is to have a changing supply list. Giving people what they want. Anyone who is a local producer / business can approach us. We'd love to run producer markets at Dean Clough, and are happy to tell people where else they can buy the stuff we sell.

    Thanks for your kind comments about our ethics. We have had them questioned before, but we are trying new things, so we expect them to happen.
    We hope to see you down there, and think how we can highlight your shop.
    Chris Sands (Totally Locally).

  2. Hi Chris. Thanks for your comments. We'll definitely be calling in. Good luck!