Buying local: 8 UK-based small businesses to support during the crisis

A lot of things are uncertain at the moment, but one thing is clear – the coronavirus pandemic has affected everyone, in one way or another. This is no different for small businesses and independent brands, which have been hit hard by the economic slowdown and lockdown measures. Although the government has put in place some support programmes to help businesses, months of struggle lie ahead for many SMEs. Thankfully, there are still ways that we can do our part in supporting local businesses. 

We’ve compiled a list of a few local businesses in London, highlighting their initiatives and how to support them below. Despite current struggles, these small businesses have adapted and set up special initiatives to pay it forward during these difficult times – let’s encourage their flexibility and resourcefulness!

Enjoy food and drinks from local businesses 

With restaurants, pubs and cafés affected by the lockdown measures, we’ve all been enjoying more homemade food and drinks in the past few months. Some of us have become master chefs by cooking more homemade meals, or improvised ourselves baristas or mixologists. The good news is that you can enjoy many small brands’ products at home. Whether you’re in the mood for a change from your quarantine routine, or simply want to level up your pantry, you can treat yourself to some food and drinks from local businesses, delivered to your door. 

La Tua Pasta is an artisan fresh pasta producer in London.

Check out these businesses and learn more about their support initiatives: 

  • La Tua Pasta is an artisan fresh pasta producer. The company makes their pasta, including fillings, from scratch following traditional recipes and Italian savoir-faire. La Tua Pasta’s main distribution channel being through London restaurants, it found itself losing out on most of its business following the lockdown measures. This bump in the road wasn’t going to stop them – the company powered through and completely adapted its offering to the current market conditions. They launched a consumer website, where people can order restaurant quality pasta, sauces and antipasti, and get the food delivered to their doorstep. If receiving a box full of mouth-wateringly fresh Italian goods isn’t enough to convince you, La Tua Pasta is also giving back to the NHS during these difficult times. NHS staff get a 20% discount on orders, plus, for every order on the website, La Tua Pasta donates a meal to the NHS. Indulge in delicious Italian food while supporting the NHS – it’s a win-win situation. 
  • Still in the mood for Italian food? Pizza Bellissima is a company that brings the pizzeria experience to your home with their easy and convenient make-your-own pizza kits. For £35.99, you can get UK-wide next day delivery on their Bellissima kit, which contains 4 pizza bases, tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, starters, sides and drinks. The best part is that for each Bellissima kit sold on their website, Pizza Bellissima donates £5 to the NHS. 
  • Brewgooder is a social enterprise that is committed to funding clean water projects around the globe. All of the company’s profits from its craft beer sales go towards clean water charities. The company has been hit hard by the crisis, having to absorb loss of trade via pubs, restaurants and workspaces, but is still committed to its social mission. Wanting to have a positive impact closer to home, Brewgooder has launched the One On Us programme. Through this initiative, the company donates its beer at cost, and they launched an online platform allowing anyone to pay-forward a 4-pack along with a message of support to NHS workers. Up to now, they have had almost 7,000 packs paid forward, and more than 20,000 NHS staff registered to claim. Head over to their website and share a beer with an NHS worker. 
  • Pip & Nut is a nut butter company that produces healthy peanut and almond-based products. You can support this local company by ordering their delicious nut butter products, delivered straight to your door. If you’re a new customer, you can get 15% off your first order by subscribing to their newsletter. To support local communities during the crisis, Pip & Nut has launched a food bank donation programme, One From You, One From Us, which aims to donate as many peanut butter jars as possible. Pip & Nut will match each donation and ensure the delivery of the jars to local food banks. Head over to their website to make a donation, and treat yourself to one of their tasty products while you’re at it. 

Keep your mind and body active

Staying home to stop the spread of the coronavirus has definitely been challenging, but it’s also been the opportunity to do a lot of the things we usually never have the time for. Whether you’ve discovered a passion for reading, learning or working out, local businesses are here to make sure you keep doing the things you love.

Fitness studio Frame, in London, offers fitness classes online during the coronavirus crisis.

Have a look at how these businesses have adapted their offering: 

  • Frame is a studio offering fitness classes in several locations across Central London. Following gym and studio closures in the UK, Frame has adapted and moved to the digital space, sharing on-demand and live classes on their new platform, Frame Online. In an effort to give back, they’re giving all essential workers free access to this online platform. To support this local business, top up your Frame account today. You will be able to stream unlimited content on the online platform, from high intensity workouts to pilates and barre. If you’d rather wait until the studio opens back up, that’s fine too. All credits will be extended to 6 months from reopening, so you can buy now and enjoy later.
  • Burley Fisher Books is an independent small press bookshop and café in Haggerston. The store has gained an increasingly popular reputation since its launch in 2016, but unfortunately, has had to temporarily close down due to the pandemic. Closing down their physical store hasn’t stopped them, though. The team at Burley Fisher Books is offering book deliveries, charged at only £1.50 per order, to keep their clientele reading during these difficult times. They’ve also launched a podcast, Isolation Station, where they interview writers and showcase the book recommendations they would usually promote in-store. Burley Fisher Books is one example of an independent bookstore that has gone above and beyond to stay connected with their customers during the pandemic, but several other local bookshops have worked on initiatives. To stay up to date, follow #ChooseBookshops on social media.

Encourage socially responsible brands

With the growing environmental concerns, many of us are looking for ways to be more environmentally-friendly. Saving water, using less plastic and living a zero-waste lifestyle are great ways to help reduce our carbon footprint. Another important thing to look into is shopping habits. Shopping at local, ethical and sustainable businesses should be at the top of our list when looking to live a more mindful and environmentally-friendly life. Luckily, there are some great businesses out there that are making socially responsible shopping a lot easier.

Shopping sustainably has been more important than ever

Learn more about some businesses that are not only helping out the environment, but also giving back to the community during the crisis: 

  • E.L.V. Denim is a zero-waste sustainable denim brand that creates upcycled jeans, jackets and accessories. Their unique designs are entirely produced in East London factories and ateliers, ensuring a low carbon footprint and supporting local communities. To help out during the crisis, E.L.V. Denim has pledged to donate 15% of the proceeds from every online sale to Made in Hackney, a local food kitchen. New pair of upcycled jeans? Check. Supporting a local business and charity? Check! One of their high-quality pieces could even be the starting point for your capsule wardrobe
  • Lucy Bee is well-known for its signature coconut oil. The brand also offers a range of high-quality food products and skincare. Lucy Bee is committed to providing organic, ethically-sourced and sustainable products to its customers. During the crisis, the brand has also stepped up and donated 30,000 natural soap bars to charities across the UK. The coconut oil soap bars have been distributed to people in need across different organisations, from care homes to homeless shelters and emergency services. 

Listed above are just a few examples of small businesses that you can support during the crisis. Many local businesses are struggling at the moment, so let’s all try to be mindful of this when deciding where to shop during these challenging times. If you’d like to do your own research and find more small businesses that you can support, visit the Help Your Hood website. Their interactive map identifies independent businesses from which you can buy gift cards. Ordering a gift card now for later use can really make a difference for a small business at a time where many are struggling with liquidity.