As the Prynu’n Lleol Gwynedd project reaches its eighteen-month milestone, our webmistress looks back on the articles she’s edited and written, and muses on all the things she’s learned so far about buying locally.
I’ve always taken the easiest options where shopping is concerned. The least hassle and the least expense have always been my motivators – as they are for most people, I suspect.
But looking after the Prynu’n Lleol Gwynedd website, and editing and writing its blog posts, has been a real eye-opener and I’m proud to say that many of my shopping habits have changed in the 18 months that I’ve been involved in the project.
Before working on this project I shopped almost exclusively at big chain stores or with online giants. But although I haven’t cut these businesses out of my life completely, they get far less of my money than they used to…
The thought of the impact of these huge businesses on the local economy rarely crossed my mind before I started this job. But as I’ve learned, how and where you spend your money can have huge implications for the local community.
It’s been a genuinely fascinating journey so far, and I’m learning a lot as I go along.
I’m discovering that buying locally doesn’t necessarily mean buying small. Gwynedd has some amazing success stories: South Caernarfon Creameries is a great example of a small local initiative growing into a large, successful business.
And I’ve learned that shopping locally can also be done without leaving the house; my grandsons love their Christmas presents which I bought online from Babi Pur, a Gwynedd business which started small and now enjoys national and even international success.
A few months ago I had the pleasure of spending a day at GreenWood Forest Park and learning first-hand about the great efforts they make to employ local people, use local suppliers and reduce the amount of harm done by businesses to the environment.
I’m learning that when local businesses work together, they can do great things to keep their local economies healthy – for example, creating local currencies and, in the case of Inigo Jones, supporting local artists and craftspeople. Snowdonia Pass is an excellent example of businesses coming together to support an entire industry.
I’ve visited numerous Gwynedd towns and villages for Prynu’n Lleol Gwynedd in the past year and a half – and may even visit a few more! These special shopping trips have already taken me to my nearest towns like Caernarfon, Pwllheli, Porthmadog and Bangor, but also as far afield as Dolgellau, Bala and Harlech. As well as having fun on these trips, I bagged a few bargains and learned that there are some truly wonderful shops in Gwynedd. I hope to bag a few more on future assignments!
I’ve also learned what shopping locally means to other people.
Award-winning Gwynedd businesswoman Shoned Owen explained how local businesses stocking her self-tanning products was a crucial element in her success.
Musician and businessman Dafydd Iwan wrote about the digital revolution and its effect on the ethos of buying locally.
Gwynedd farmer and businessman Gwion Llwyd suggested we look at value rather than cost, when we make our buying decisions.
Chief Bard and publisher Myrddin ap Dafydd sang the praises of traditional Welsh market towns and wondered whether free parking would improve their fortunes.
And blogger Emily Prowse took up our challenge to replace a few essentials from her shopping basket with products that could be bought from local businesses.
Perhaps the most interesting experience of all, until now at least, was interviewing farmer Gareth Wyn Jones, who made me stop and think about where my food comes from – and where our locally-produced food ends up. Gareth had so much to say about the subject that I ended up writing three articles about him. The first introduced the concept of ‘food hubs’, the second suggested teaching children about the origins of their food, and the third bemoaned the lack of support from the Government and the pressure that supermarkets put on food producers. He’s now on TV again, this time talking about dairy farming – so perhaps it’s time for a catch-up!
During my time working on the project I started up a crafting business too, and wrote about my experiences from the other side of the fence – and let me tell you, once you’ve tried competing with imported factory knick-knacks you realise just how crucial it is to support small local businesses. I learned about the hard work involved in selling at craft fairs, and I’m realising how important these events are to communities all year round – not just at the Christmas ‘peak fair season’.
Probably the biggest lesson I’m taking away from Prynu’n Lleol Gwynedd, though, is just how little we need to do as individuals to make a big impact on our local economy. Changing our shopping habits so that we spend just £5 a week at a local business instead of at a big chain means that rather than contributing towards an overseas millionaire’s umpteenth holiday home or sports car, we’re paying for little Bethan’s ballet lessons, helping to buy little Osian a new pair of football boots, or putting food on the Joneses’ table for another week.
And really, there’s no greater incentive than that!
About the author
Debs Williams is webmistress of the Prynu’n Lleol Gwynedd website. She’s a self-employed marketer, copywriter and website creator and also has a small crafting business. Originally from London, Debs has lived in Gwynedd since July 2000 and is a self-taught Welsh speaker.