This month’s mission to spend money in the local community takes our roving reporter to Harlech…
One of the things I’ve learned during my time writing for Prynu’n Lleol Gwynedd is that what’s great about buying locally – whether you’re a consumer or a business – is that every pound you spend locally makes a difference.
Prynu’n Lleol Gwynedd has calculated that if every adult in Gwynedd were to change their shopping habits ever so slightly, by spending just £5 a week at a local business instead of with the multinationals, it would be worth an additional £26m a year to our local economy.
One tiny change like that can have such a huge impact, without making a huge impact on the way you shop. Nobody’s suggesting that you completely stop using large superstores and start shopping exclusively at local shops, because realistically that’s going to be difficult for most people.
And so it was with this in mind that my next ‘shopping locally’ trip was to the tiny town of Harlech.
I knew it wouldn’t be possible to do a full shopping trip there, because there are not that many shops in the town. But I knew that I could go there for a look around and come back with a fiver’s worth of something or another, and combine a pleasant morning out with doing something positive for the local economy.
I’d never actually been to Harlech before – not properly, anyway; I’d been to the theatre there a couple of times but had never been into the town centre. My research (hello, Google Street View) suggested the high street might not be as bustling as those of Caernarfon or Pwllhelli, my usual haunts, but that the town’s shops looked pretty interesting nevertheless.
For a change, we decided to take the dog with us. We don’t usually take him shopping as he gets a bit spooked by traffic and isn’t used to being around crowds. But on this occasion we thought a small, quiet town like Harlech would be ideal for introducing him to the notion of taking walks around groups of people, traffic, and other dogs.
As it turned out, the dog received a present for being a good boy – a giant balloon ‘football’ that I saw him coveting outside the corner shop. So it’s thanks to our pooch that this particular shop was £3.50 better off that day!
There are a couple of shops in Harlech that sell pre-loved items (that’s a fancy way of saying second-hand shops!) and if I hadn’t had the dog and the husband with me – both of whom have low boredom thresholds – I would happily have spent half an hour in each, browsing through those items that their original owners had deemed ‘junk’ but which new owners might consider ‘treasure’. But alas – I was under strict instructions to keep moving, so a longing glance through the windows was about as much as I could get away with. A shame, because these shops looked like real Aladdin’s caves and I would have loved to explore properly.
Walking further up the high street there’s a little courtyard with shops around its perimeter. Mostly these sold high quality goods for the home (such as textiles, lighting and ‘just gorgeous things, daaahling’ as the Ab Fab ladies might say). Had there been more money in my purse that day, these shops would definitely have felt the benefit! There was also a gorgeous looking cafe-cum-delicatessen which, had there been more time and less dog, I would have loved to spend some time in.
Another shop I really enjoyed – and I was allowed to actually look around it properly, this time – was the little pottery-slash-gallery in what appeared to be a really ancient stone building. This was on several levels and shoppers could even have a poke around the workshop, which was really cool. I’ve made a mental note of this place, as well as the interior design shops in the courtyard, as next time I’m shopping for a revamped room or an extra-special gift these shops will be at the top of my list.
All too soon it was time to turn back and head for home. But then I spotted the old-fashioned sweetshop that sold sweets by the weight, just as they did when I was a child in the 70s. At last, an opportunity to treat myself – and my long-suffering husband – to something nice. I came out with a 100g bag of sweets for me, and another for hubby, who seemed happy to have been rewarded for his efforts.
So, all three of us had a lovely morning out in the sunshine, and Harlech’s economy was swelled by a grand total of £5.70! It’s hardly a princely sum, but – and perhaps it’s cheeky to steal a slogan from a supermarket after trying to persuade my readers to shop there less often – every little helps!