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How To Avoid Amazon: A guide to buying gifts locally, sustainably, and ethically

How To Avoid Amazon: A guide to buying gifts locally, sustainably, and ethically

Written in collaboration with Ellie Beasley-Gould from The Greenish 

Ellie & I discovered each other via Linked In and, although we've never met, we've been chatting for a while over email and realised we have loads in common. We decided to join forces to give you some top tips about how buy gifts locally, sustainably and ethically. 

The Greenish

 

Ellie Besley-Gould is the editor at The Greenish and a fellow North Londoner. She set up the site after making a decision to be more sustainable and struggling to find a place online which brought together food, fashion and family life with a simple, greener viewpoint. While Amazon has rescued her from many a last minute dash in the past, Ellie has been trying to reduce the number of deliveries this year, so has spent a lot of time thinking about how to use more sustainable and yet achievable alternatives.

 

 

Amazon is unbelievably convenient. There is no doubt.  We’ve all been stuck, a day before someone’s birthday having forgotten the big day and desperately trying to find a gift to deliver almost immediately. And who is always there? Amazon. 

However, it is a pretty high carbon way to shop. Amazon’s total carbon footprint in the 2019 fiscal year was around 50 million metric tons of carbon dioxide. If that doesn’t really mean anything to you (or us) it’s equivalent to something like 6 million homes energy use for a year or 11 million cars driven for a year - it’s also significantly higher than the carbon footprint of Wales. It’s a lot. 

It doesn’t take a scientist to guess that having single item packages delivered in oversize packaging to the door is going to be quite energy intensive. Which is why so many of us are starting to look for other ways to shop. 

Covid 19 has added a new dimension to this with people having no option but to use their local shops during lock down. This has increased a lot of people’s desire to support their local shops and businesses - a habit lots of us feel very keen to continue.

The real challenge is making alternatives convenient, and that takes a while! 

Here are some of our top tips:

  • Ellie: Plan Ahead: One of the ways I’ve managed to ensure gifts are more thoughtfully purchased is to look ahead at the beginning of each month at what we have coming up - birthdays, new babies, house moves and thank yous. Then I can pre-purchase even if it takes a little longer than my Prime account!!
  • Ellie: Get to Know Your Local Shops: I’ve been shopping on our local highstreet where possible and we have a couple of shops I can reliably count on for lovely gifts. By getting to know the shop owners I’ve discovered that they can send gifts for me if I purchase in store - which takes away the added burden of wrapping and posting
  • Ellie: Find Some Go-to Places Online: By having my set of usual places to shop (for me, Wearth London, Weaver Green, Gifted Local & Etsy are my most-used) I get to know how long they take to deliver, what the gift options are and the range of products they have (plus, all my card details are saved already which speeds things up at the checkout!)
  • Helen: I’ve recently discovered a great app called Swish For It which allows you to create lists and save items you may want to buy at a later date. This is perfect to save ideas for birthdays or Christmas that you’ve spotted locally and don’t want to forget about
  • Helen: Dare to be different! This is a big one. Personally I love to buy unique & bespoke gifts for people or items for my house that tell a story. So often on the high streets you see the same thing over and over again. Buying something with a story behind it has so much more meaning and that item will be more treasured.
  • Helen: Really think about the people who receive your money when you buy something locally compared to who gets your money when you hit ‘buy now’ on Amazon.

     

    For some inspiration, Ellie loves these products on Gifted Local

    Personalised Rainbow Zip Pouches £14

    personalised rainbow pouch

     Set of 2 small coffee mugs £35

    Coffee Mugs

     

    Mountain at Dusk Linocut Print £40

    Moon print

     

    Plaited Liberty Print Alice Band £20

    Alice bands

    Small cream polka dot vase £24

    Polka dot vase

     

    Thanks for reading!

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    Find out about why I set up Gifted Local

     

      

     

     

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      Seller Spotlight: Niccy Iseman | Type and Story

      Seller Spotlight: Niccy Iseman | Type and Story

      Written by Helen Robinson

      I first met Niccy, the award winning designer and the creative force behind Type & Story, when Gifted Local was just an idea and I was nervous to approach someone so well established (and already stocked in Paperchase!). I regularly spotted her designs on influencer walls and mantelpieces around the country so was very keen to get her on board. Luckily Niccy is a big fan of supporting local businesses and loved the concept of Gifted Local so agreed to be part of the site. Get to know Niccy by reading the interview below.

      Please tell us about Type & Story

      Quite simply, I create purposeful Paper Goods

      Kindness greeeting cards Type & Story

      Why did you start making what you make?

      I started Type and Story in June 2017 purely as a creative outlet as my new identity as a Mother. I have also always loved design so was very happy to be exploring and developing ranges in my evenings / spare time whatever the outcome, there was no real mission to the brand when I started out.

      Monogram print A by Type & StoryType & Story H Monogram print

      In what ways are you ensuring your products & packaging are ethically produced?

      I am mindful about production, its hugely important. All paper stocks I use are responsibly sourced and FSC accredited. My cello bags are made in the UK from film that has been accredited to ‘OK biobased’ and are fully biodegradable and compostable, breaking down to CO2 and H2O. If I am sending out to individual customers I don't package my products in plastic, I try to go ‘naked’ or use an eco sticker. I also reuse all packaging from our suppliers to package up my orders to send to our lovely stores and customers. 

      How do you feel when someone has brought something off you?

      I am elated when someone buys from me. I feel so strongly about keeping our high streets alive with individual designers and makers especially in the midst of this global pandemic.

      Home notebook by Type &  Story

      What has been your proudest moment?

      Being stocked by Paperchase and being showcased in the Stylist. Both equally dreamy moments.

      How did you feel when Gifted Local contacted you to be part of the site?

      Very honoured and very grateful to be a part of a caring community

      Work LIfe Balance Notebook Type & Story

      What are the best thing and worst things about running your own business?

      Being able to be the master of your own time and design things your way is definitely up there but the lack of a stable income and being able to plan my day as things crop up constantly is hard.

      Where do you get most of your work done?

      Before Covid 19 you would usually fine me in Planet Organic - Muswell Hill. When this is all over, I’ll be back there surrounded by nut bars and mugs of tea.

      Where do you live, what do you love about your area and what could be improved?

      I live in East Finchley. It’s very beautiful and a particular highlight for me is the Cherry Tree woods leading up to Muswell Hill. Who knew it was there!  I love the Parkland walk, I love La Dinette Café in Muswell Hill and Ally Pally for gigs, the garden centre and Little Dinosaurs.  East Finchley without question needs a more interesting high street although I am particularly enjoying Tony's Continental which does fab fresh fruit and veg and Campbell and Syme which does lovely coffee.

      How are you finding life during the Coronavirus lock down?

      Because most of my wholesale has slowly died down I am enjoying shifting my focus to sending directly to consumers.

      I have created a campaign called ‘cAIR MAIL’ which are is a luxury postcard which you can proudly gift to any of your loved ones with promises of what you will do when freedom is yours again! All the proceeds of this postcard will be donated to support the incredible charity SUFRA, a food bank and kitchen in NW London. The money will go to their Coronavirus Emergency Appeal. So the campaign is keeping me busy writing and posting! I have had also had some very interesting and very early conversations with a retailer who is looking to collaborate on some stationery so this could be a promising time for the brand – watch this space!

      How are you supporting your local community during lock down?

      I always shop local if I can so now I’m checking which local businesses are selling online, for example I buy gifts from other local sellers, cheese from the lovely cheese shop in Muswell Hill and I buy books from the local book shop - it is too easy to shop locally. These business need us now more than ever so if they sell online I try them before anywhere else!

      What are you most looking forward to doing when lock down ends?

      Scoot down to Planet Organic with my 4 year old, we taste some things and fill up the children trollies with items we don’t need (but buy anyway!), continue scooting to Little Dinosaurs (Ally Pally) and then catch the 102 home - its perfect. Sundays the farmers market in Ally pally is superb for breads and sweet treats!

      What is your best postcode secret?

      Cherry Tree Woods behind East Finchley Station. Best Yoga - The Yoga Quarter next to Holloway Road Station. Best Coffee place is La Peche Mignon in Highbury and best running route will always be the Parkland Walk!

      Finally, what is your Top Local Love

      My top Local love is the view from the Phoenix Bar and kitchen pub in Ally Pally. on a summers day looking out onto the city, its INCREDIBLE. I look forward to Covid-19 being over and drinking some wine in the sunshine with the world!

      Browse & order Niccy's products and sign up to our newsletter to get our new sellers, seller stories and discounts straight to your inbox.

      View all Gifted Local products.

       

       

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      Seller Spotlight: Danielle Mensah | dmLDNcraft

      Seller Spotlight: Danielle Mensah | dmLDNcraft

      With Covid-19 now part of our lives, it's more important than ever to shout about and highlight local businesses so our Seller Spotlight series is back and this time we're interviewing Danielle Mensah, a stain glass maker based in Tottenham.  As she creates delicate items that are tricky to post, the website provided a perfect solution to her being able to sell locally.

      Tell us about dmLDNcraft

      I make stained glass homeware including mirrors, dishes and other small ornaments. 5 years ago I was looking for a creative outlet and therapy at a low time and as I've always loved looking at stain glass so I decided to do a traditional course in it. I absolutely loved it and felt like I’d discovered a new part of myself so continued making pieces after the course finished and I’ve been going ever since.

      Tell us about your creative process

      Most pieces take between to 2 to 7 hours to make and I use old traditional techniques including the copperfoil technique. I source old and vintage mirrors rather than buying new ones, I reuse stained glass and save smaller pieces of glass cuttings to work into other pieces.

      What do you use as packaging?

      As my items are made of glass, I must take care in packaging each piece well. I encase items in recycled bubble wrap and then use recycled paper materials to provide the extra padding in gift boxes.

      How do you feel when someone buys something from you?

      A little light comes on inside me, that someone has faith in what I've made is a huge deal. Each piece sold allows me to reinvest in creating more but moreover, the knowledge that someone enjoys my little piece of art is life-affirming and motivational to keep on at it.

      Jewellery dishes stained glass

      What has been your proudest moment?

      My first sales at craft markets were almost a surprise. I thought I had a good product but it's flattering when someone who has no duty to make you feel good about what you've achieved sincerely likes what you make.

      What are the best and worst thing about running your own business?

      I love every stage and seeing things through from ideas to a finished, functional product and being able to experiment with how all of that works. But I hate having to plug my own work. Making myself vulnerable to show what I've taken the time to create is nerve-wracking and doesn't come naturally!

      dmLDNcraftstained glass mirrorstained glass mirror

      How did you feel when Gifted Local contacted you to be part of the site?

      I am so excited at the idea of a website that engages with people locally. It was something I hadn't heard of before and actually a fairly simple solution to the issue of waste and carbon emissions from all the online shopping we do, usually from huge, unethical corporations. Helen is a clever lady to found this and I'm so pleased to be involved. I love browsing the Gifted Local site! 

      What area do you live?

      I've lived in Tottenham for a couple of years but grew up in Chingford. I grew up visiting Ghanaian restaurants in Tottenham and actually my parents had a restaurant there so I knew it pretty well before I moved here. I love the diversity of the area and it’s such an exciting place to live at the moment. There's now a host of cool pubs, breweries and growing independent brands by talented individuals.

      How are you keeping yourself busy during the Coronavirus lock down?

      There’s a lot of messaging at the moment that now is the time to be your most productive, creative self. I do have more time to experiment with design and that’s exciting but I’m trying to take one day at a time and not feel awful for having days where I haven’t worked on something.  I’m watching films I’ve always wanted to and taking better care of my plants

      What are you doing to support your local community in this time of crisis?

      I'm grateful to the local convenience stores that have stayed open to allow access to groceries.  I hope to see the usual salons, coffee shops and market nearby open up again soon. I'll be rooting for them by choosing to spend in them where I can and popping in to say hello and see familiar faces. It's the local businesses that make the area.

      What are you most looking forward to doing when the lock down ends?

      Enjoying London town for everything it is (hopefully in the Summer). There'll be no excuse not to visit the attractions here that I haven't yet, despite growing up in London. I look forward to parks and pop-up dining and celebrating exhibitions of art by not missing the last day of showing as I have done too many times. I'm aiming not to take things for granted. That goes the same for seeing loved ones near and far.

      What is your best postcode secret

      Roller Nation – a roller disco that plays amazing tunes to fall over to. Too much fun!

      Finally, what is your Top Local Love?

      It has to be the canal and marshes on a sunny day. On a rainy day too.

      Shop Danielle's Products or sign up to our Newsletter to get new sellers, seller stories and discounts straight to your inbox.

      Jewellery stain glass dishes and other artwork

       Shop Gifted Local Best Sellers

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      Should I be marketing my small business during the Coronavirus outbreak?

      Should I be marketing my small business during the Coronavirus outbreak?
      Written by Helen Robinson

      With everything going on I've been a rabbit in the so called Covid-19 headlights, not sure which way to turn. Do I carry on, business as usual like so many companies who are still promoting Mothers Day? While some other companies seem to be using Coronavirus as a marketing tool highlighting their products & services that might be useful in the coming weeks.  Gifted Local - a gifting delivery service to your front door - could potentially do very well over the coming weeks and months but there is no way I'd want to cash in on something that is, and will be, so devastating to everyone. 

      So I've sat on my hands for a few weeks not knowing what to do.  But recently, I've started to notice how this is bringing our community together. I've seen shout-outs on local Facebook groups for those who are willing and able to help others who are already in self-isolation or might be in future.  Local committees and WhatsApp groups are forming to keep each other updated with who needs help and how to keep those in isolation entertained.

      We're all worried about our health, our jobs, our financial security, how to work if (and when) the schools are shut etc. I have over 40 sellers on the Gifted Local site, they are all small businesses who are just as worried as me. Weekend markets will probably start to empty and other retail opportunities may disappear as people start to socially distance themselves.

      With that in mind, and thinking about what a lovely community we live in, I've decided to carry on promoting the site, the sellers and what we can offer.  Buying from one of the Gifted Local sellers will help a small local business in your local area. And at a time like this, I think we all need to help each other as much as possible.

      Shop all Gifted Local gifts here

      Read Our Story

      Flatlay of Gifted LocaL products

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      Seller Spotlight: Aimee Spillman | Woodle Books

      Seller Spotlight: Aimee Spillman | Woodle Books

      Interview by Helen Robinson

      The first of Gifted Local’s ‘Get To Know’ series highlighting the incredible sellers in our community.

      Please tell us about Woodle Books

      Quite simply, I make gorgeous handmade notebooks that are all unique. All of the books that I make are made with love and I agonise over the combinations of paper and covering material. Nothing is just thrown together. I choose the wording with the colours. I try to imagine who is going to want this book, and then decide what sort of phrase they are going to want.  Each book is handmade from scratch so it takes about 6 hours to make each one. Each one is also completely bespoke and unique, there is never more than one Woodle book featuring the same phrase, front colour, inside pattern or size. 

      Feminine notebook

      Why did you set up Woodle Books?

      I have always loved books and I grew up surrounded by them. Whilst working at the British Library I applied to do a course in book binding at City Lit. Having completed this course after a year I then got an internship at Windsor Castle in the Book Conservation department and experienced and learnt so much. I then moved onto a Bindery and loved every minute of it but eventually decided I wanted to work for myself so I started out on my own. I love what I do and being my own boss makes me love binding even more. There's something about taking a large stack of flat paper and turning it into a beautiful book, it’s a uniquely satisfying thing!

      Feminism is also extremely important to me, I’ve stopped promoting messages of female empowerment as they are for all and there are a lot of people out there who need to be empowered who don't identify as female. I’m growing as a feminist and want to spread the word as loudly and proudly as I can, and if my notebooks help someone stand up and say what they are worth or just bring a smile to someone’s face it's all worth it. We should all be feminists and I hope I’ve helped one or two people begin their journey.

      notebooks and cactus plants

      In what ways are you ensuring your products are ethically produced?

      Woodle Books is all about empowerment and I am a strong believer in doing as I say so I source end papers from other female business owners:

      • Jemma Lewis - Marble
      • Esme Winter - Geometric
      • Alphablots - large bright papers
      • Paperchase - the papers I source from here are made by women in Nepal all earning a living wage
      • Artway - made from 50% recycled coffee cups and this is what I use for the main body of my books

      Pattern inside of handmade notebook

      What do you use as packaging and how do you ensure this is minimal / environmentally friendly?

      I re-use all the packaging I receive from my suppliers and general packaging I receive at home. I never buy anything new and have moved onto using washi tape instead of plastic tape. 

      What has been your strangest request by a customer so far?

      I had a beautiful request for a photo album where I incorporated part of the customer’s wedding dress into the fabric of the cover.

      How do you feel when someone buys a book?

      I only make books that I love so it’s always hard to part with them. I get attached to books quite regularly and have to make sure they are going to a good home.

      Because of the messages on the books I am often told they are being gifted to some very powerful and amazing women: lawyers, judges, human rights activists and that really makes it all worthwhile. I especially like it when they are bought by a male customer or bought for a male friend as a present!  I love being at markets and what’s especially great is seeing older members of the public laugh at the swear books – they often do a double take followed by a wry smile. 

      handmade notebooks

      What’s the best thing about running your own business?

      Everything! I love the flexibility, of being able to sit in the garden and read for two hours in the sun and work later into the evenings when the sun has gone down. Meeting all the amazing people that I never would have if I had stayed at my job. I have never met a better group of people than I have doing markets, the camaraderie and just general awesomeness has got me though a few dark, cold and rainy days. It’s a community I didn't know existed but one I’m so proud to now be part of.

      What’s the worst thing about running your own business?

      Everything! It’s tough, I’ve had more than a few days where I wanted to give up and go back to the easiness of being employed and having a regular income. It can be really lonely and it’s hard if you don't have people who know how utterly soul destroying it is to have a bad day at a market when you can’t help but take it personally as everything you have made is personal. But… I am lucky to have amazing people around me who know how to pick me up and have kept me going.

      Where do you get most of your work done?

      I sew all of my books at home and make all of the cases as well. I then get myself to the London Centre for Book Arts (www.londonbookarts.org) where they have the big machines I need like the Guillotine and the Pragnant, which is the machine I use for blocking.

      How did you feel when Gifted Local contacted you to be part of the site?

      Extremely excited, it’s a great idea and makes gifting so much more personalised. North London is full of really talented makers and it’s great that so many of us will be all in one place.

      notebooks

      Where do you live?

      Wood Green in London is where my husband and I bought our house eight years ago having rented in Bounds green for a while. We love being on the Piccadilly line, it’s so quick and not that sweaty in the summer and it’s such a green area - we have four parks in close proximity to us which is great for our dog Stan.

      How do you support your local community?

      Being a small business I realise the importance of all of those sales. Just one can help out so I try to buy small and local as best as I can.

      Finally, what is your Top Local Love?

      I love living in such a hilly part of London. We get great views of London and all of the surrounding areas! There is a secret view of London a few roads from where I live which is glorious. 

       

      Order Woodle Books products here and sign up to our newsletter to be the first to hear about new sellers, seller stories, products and discounts.

      View all Gifted Local products here.

       

       

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      How 'Off Trend’ is Trending: 6 ways to decorate more ethically for the long term

      How 'Off Trend’ is Trending: 6 ways to decorate more ethically for the long term
      Written by Audrey Whelan

      I'm an interior designer with over 20 years experience who is really passionate about empowering people to make confident decisions when it comes to their home interiors. Helen kindly asked me to write this article for her site and while discussing it we both realised we didn’t want a formulaic trends piece which would be outdated in a few months. Instead we wanted something that reflected our values and ethos around long term and local purchases.

      So here are six 'off trends' that are emerging in the world of interior design which I believe are here to stay:

      1. Unique & Individual

      There is a message, slowly but surely evolving, about trusting our instincts and buying items, not because they are ‘on trend’ but because they reflect our personality. When we purchase items because we intrinsically love them they offer a timeless quality resonating with meaning or memory, rather than an association with a particular look or trend that fades over time.

        Personalised print of a floral name, Ava

      Catch of the Day Dinnerware Handbag Plates by Ali Joe Designs from Gifted Local ‘revives the traditional decorative plate with a witty, contemporary twist’.
      Personalised Floral Print Name by Charlotte Hogg Design

      2. Longer Term Thinking

      We are becoming more conscious of our precious but fragile environment and needing to be more mindful of what we are purchasing and throwing away as consumers. Buying things that will last is becoming more important. For many people the solution is to buy fewer things, but of better quality.

       Posy and Pot Pink and White Hand Tied Paper flower Bouquet in Glass VasePosy and Pot White Hydrangea Paper Flower Bouquet in Glass Vase

      Paper Flowers: Pink and White Posy and White Hydrangea Bouquet by Posy & Pot from Gifted Local ‘will last for years without water and are easy to care for’.

      3. Connection & Conversation

      In our digital age, it’s more important than ever to have items that encourage connection and conversation in the home. This could be as simple as a soft blanket to encourage family members to snuggle up together on the sofa – the cosier the better! It could also be a conversation piece to delight visitors and give some insight into you and your interests - encouraging you to discover common ground and foster relationships with people around you. When it comes to artwork I love to find items that have a connection to the homeowners interests.

      Sobu Handmade Soft Light Grey Wool Blanket Foldedvisual tribute to some of the great characters who have played for the British and Irish Lions, using the iconic periodic table as the framework by on a sixpence
      Light Grey Wool Blanket by Sobu Handmade on Gifted Local would be perfect draped on the arm on a sofa or loveseat ready for some snuggles. The bright stripe comes in a choice of colours.
      The British And Irish Lions Rugby Print by On A Sixpence from Gifted Local ‘is a visual tribute to some of the great characters who have played for the British and Irish Lions, using the iconic periodic table as the framework.’ A must for British & Irish Lions Rugby fans!

      4. Sustainable & Natural

      We are seeing an increase in bamboo, cork, linen and other sustainable materials in interiors and more people choosing a particular material or product due to it’s low environmental impact.

       Large natural linen cushion with grey appliqué star by sobu handmade100% linen with personalised white cotton appliqué letter or symbol by sobu handmade

      Star Linen Cushion and Personalised Linen Cushion by Sobu Handmade

      5. Layered Patterns

      Not just on fabric and wallpaper, we are seeing more pattern on smaller objects for the home such as table top items, picture frames etc. You can layer up many patterns together and as people become braver with this we will see even more of it!

      Rosh Nutt 3 dotty tea towels layeredRosha Nutt dotty tea towel on a white table with a candle

      Dotty Tea Towels by Rosha Nutt from Gifted Local. A great way to bring some extra pattern into a kitchen!

      6. Foliage & Flowers

      Biophilic design is a buzz word in interior design at the moment and will grow as we increasingly realise the benefits of having plants in the home is much deeper than just visual appeal. We are seeing this filter through to greenery patterns on artwork and accessories too. This can be a great way to ‘bring the outdoors in’ and help create a healthy happy home!

      2 watercolour Giclee art print of Colourful Leaves on a white wall. Painted using lovely tones of greens, pinks, greys and blues by Charlotte Hogg DesignsMini cactus in a hand painted magenta concrete pot by cactus joetwo wild bulb terrariums side by side using up-cycled light bulbs with cork stoppers

      Mini Cactus in Magenta Pot by Cactus Joe, Colourful leaves Art Print by Charlotte Hogg & Light Bulb Terrariums by Wild Bulb from Gifted Local are all great ways to bring some greenery into your home.

      ***

      If you’d like to learn more from Audrey book one of her interior design workshopsHeld regularly all over London, Audrey recommends you take along photos of the room you want to redesign and she’ll walk you through the process to create actionable design ideas!

      'Audrey's workshop was inspiring and exactly what I needed to start with my first interior design project. I now feel confident putting together moodboards using Audrey's technique and tips and will definitely attend future workshops' 
      Workshop attendee Nov 2019
      'Very helpful session with some excellent tips and ideas. I found the scaled drawings quite helpful in truly understanding how I wish to use the space (in particular taking into account the elevations / wall space'
      Workshop attendee Feb 2020

       

      For products which have all been made / designed by local people in North London check out the Gifted Local Homeware section.

       

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      Better Than Black Friday?

      Better Than Black Friday?
      #blackfriday is such a milestone in any retailer's calendar and we have struggled, as a new business, to know what to do about it. Should we jump on the discount band wagon to battle it out with all the big retail outlets? Continue reading