Well, there was me in March waxing lovely and lyrical about the shop local love we have for our terrific town.
And then just a few dark days later… boom! Our businesses shut up shop as that crazy Corona Virus, with its Lockdown limits, crashed into our beautiful Barry.
Certainly not me as I blogged about the rather real renaissance happening as us Barry buyers started to embrace the sense and spirit of #ShopLocal.
In my view, we were having a bit of a mercantile lightbulb moment.
More and more canny community consumers were starting to someway reject the super straight, strictly business supermarkets, and look more to our doorsteps for our great goods and super services.
And then it all went pandemic Pete Tong as we were forced to shuffle in the slow quarantine queue at those said supermarkets, and crucial corner shops, that were allowed to keep the shutters up.
Respect to those Barry businesses, who could, and did, adapt. I ordered another iconic towel from lush Louis at Barrybados, picked up a pot of paint awkwardly from Aspirations, and kept a semi skin care regime, and my sanity, thanks to the lovely Laura at Aura Beauty.
Commiserations to those who just couldn’t keep the cash tills ringing – especially those in the hardest hit hospitality sector.
How much have I missed my long flowing locks courtesy of Kutz and Co, my much-loved high maintenance beauty by Blush, those cheeky coffee dates at awesome Academy, and the many more marvellous places I frequented on a regular basis – in Barry, and beyond.
But now every day more and more of us locals are already making the deft decision to buy goods and gear in our shops for economic, ethical, environmental, or essential reasons.
And to boost Barry business post Covid 19 of course.
We all know that it’s totally true, that any hard-earned cash handed over in the High Street goes straight back into our cracking community – those living local, and trading in our town.
In fact, recent research suggests that a thriving and prosperous town centre not only sees about 63p in the local economy, but also starts a hike in our house prices too.
So, as we pretty sharp purchasers rightly realise, supporting those already working and living in our town through local shopping loyalty is a given.
But what about all those erstwhile entrepreneurs out there too.
Seeing our community-minded clientele supporting their birth-town businesses makes savvy shop-keepers minded to experiment with the sale of more creative commodities, and encourages innovators to market their new product or service.
For me, there’s also, another fairly fashionable reason for staying loyal locally, and that’s the chance to build a one-of-a-kind neighbourhood.
A trendy train of thought I know but look at our sort-of near neighbours Treorchy trumping us to be crowned winners of the best ever High Street in the UK.
Their quaint and quirky commercial shopping area, that offers the staples and the surreal, is crammed full of the character needed to stand out in the consumer crowd.
I reckon our very own High Street Quarter could give the Rhondda Fawr Valley a run for its money – I’m not so sure about the seen better days Holton Road.
Although, to be honest, I tend to shop more local in the latter area than the former, as I strongly stay true to supporting shops and services I have loved since back in the day.
Truth be told, I always use the town’s talents from seamstresses to stylists, builders to beauticians, craftsmen to cobblers, drivers to drycleaners, mechanics to medics, and tattooists to traders.
Let us also not forget those that have maximised the relatively recent revival in our much-maligned town’s tourism fortunes – looked forward to going to that Goods Shed.
That brilliant and bold development is very warmly welcomed. But, for me, we should also strive to keep stressing the connected strong shop local spirit that keeps our whole town cohesive.
I’ve often warned about the threat of us becoming a ‘Two Sides Town’ so, in my view, encouraging those nice newcomers and would-be Waterfront dwellers to spend in our shops, and on our services, is one of the smaller steps towards community cohesion.
And look, not only can you newbies hop on the bridge between you and Holton Road, you can now also stroll surreally through our lovely lit up Hood Road tunnel.
Yeah, yeah, I know you can get everything everywhere. Mix and match does it for me – shop local where I can, nip off to a national chain where I can’t…and look to the web now and again. It’s a start!
Also, before I get a gob full, I also totally get that we have to have the actual traders selling the goods and services for us to shop in some areas.
High Street has it sussed, Park Crescent is holding its own but, in my view Holton Road has a hard revival and regeneration battle ahead – my own fond farewell to Paul Gentiles may be worth a mention here.
Surely something can be done to make this once cracking centre not so dark, dank and depressing, and also help boost business for those traders still selling there.
Perhaps we can tap into the recently revealed Transforming Towns initiative that crucially contains £90 million in the project pot.
This includes cash for; town centre regeneration projects, to tackle empty and dilapidated buildings and land, a town centre loans scheme to bring vacant and under-utilised buildings back into use, and green infrastructure and biodiversity.
Call me controversial but, for me, a much-wanted Barry Heritage Centre there might make a definite difference too – but that’s another story!
Whatever the fateful future holds for our beautiful Barry, staying loyal locally by supporting our shops and services is more than just a slick slogan, it’s a way of life that makes sense.
#ShopLocal is about the spirit…not just the soundbite.
Sue Vincent-Jones, writing as Mrs SVJ, is a Barry born journalist, editor, and communications specialist. She blogs about Barry – and her life in the wider world, through the eyes of a, quirky and queer, local girl done good.
One of Wales Arts Review 100 Women Writers of Wales, the dedicated community supporter, passionate arts lover, and award-winning queer activist, will keep you “informed, entertained and inspired.”
There are also a number of Wales Wide Virtual Pride sponsorship opportunities available here, for those who want to visibly show their support for our diverse community – reinforcing that your business really is open to all.
Mrs SVJ, Barry’s Boldest Blogger, can be contacted here.