Why Buy Local – Pandemic Stories


“Covid has hit our High Streets and local, independent businesses incredibly hard over the past year. That’s why, if we are to ‘Build Back Better’ and ensure we have a strong Norfolk economy with thriving towns and vibrant villages, we must do all we can to shop locally and support our local entrepreneurs. If we don’t ‘use them’ now, we will inevitably ‘lose them’ – potentially forever.”  ~George Freeman MP for Mid Norfolk 

Norfolk’s independent businesses are the backbone of our local economy but to say they have been severely impacted by the pandemic is an understatement, and put simply, George’s words are not to be taken lightly.  

Buy Local Norfolk is a social enterprise all about keeping the county’s wealth within the local community and ensuring Norfolk thrives. An independent business controls its own spending power and the more local a company is, the more likely they are to spend their operational costs and also their profit locally.  This reinvestment in other local businesses and projects keeps our towns and villages robust and distinctive, creates greater buying choice, and produces more local job opportunities.

“Local businesses are at the heart of our economy with independent businesses providing great products and services. Shopping local allows more jobs and opportunities in Norfolk as well as greater choice and more sustainable communities. The pandemic has highlighted the importance of local produce and supply chains so continuing to support them is vital as we start to rebuild our local economy.”  ~James Wild MP for North West Norfolk

If that isn’t enough reason, buying local also positively impacts the environment, by reducing your carbon footprint, removing the need to travel long distances for supplies and deliveries and making walking or cycling an option.  Buying fresh local produce helps preserve small farms and green space. Independent businesses also tend to make decisions which benefit the local community and often build this into their brand offering. One example of this is eco friendly packaging, such as reusable containers.

It’s not just our local independents’ green credentials that shine through either, they also excel at keeping their customers happy too, often taking more time to get to know their clientele and going the extra mile to get things done! 

“Norfolk produces the best food.  By buying local you get it at its freshest, providing the best taste and the most nutrition.  By reducing food miles you will also be supporting local businesses and communities to flourish, benefitting us all. “Buying local keeps our highstreets alive and recycles your money within our local community, putting it to work to support economic growth and prosperity here in Norfolk.  You get better customer service and more responsive after sales care thrown in for free.” ~Jerome Mayhew MP for Broadland

We are so proud of the way our member businesses have risen to the challenges of the last year, not only continuing to adapt and run their own businesses but by finding the time and a multitude of ways to support their local community as well.  Here are some of their stories:

Coleman Opticians

During the pandemic the Directors of Coleman Opticians have been open for emergencies at all times and as lockdown changed to a tier system, we opened up routine hearing tests, eye examinations and ear wax removal. 

In the first lockdown we were dealing with a number of key workers who had broken their glasses or needed them changing to fit better under the PPE, or to prescribe contact lenses as masks were rubbing on their ears and making them sore. 

Keeping the team morale up during this year was great fun and everyone was involved in the virtual London Marathon taking a section each by rowing, paddle boarding, running, walking with toddlers or the dog and cycling.  The team have also continued to support their charity of the year Break by collecting items for recycling including used contact lenses, batteries and printer cartridges as a fundraiser.


In January 2021, working with Candour and the Norfolk Community Foundation, Osiris Technologies launched the Plug the Gap appeal. It is estimated that there are over 6,000 children in Norfolk without a device to participate in remote learning, and there are a significant number that are falling through the gaps in government provisions because of extreme circumstances. The aim of the Plug the Gap Appeal is to raise money, procure and distribute brand new laptops for young people across Norfolk who need them the most due to the increasing digital divide and the reliance on these devices to be able to learn remotely in these new times.  Working with a number of charitable and education organisations we are aware of this digital divide more than ever and want to do whatever we can to help which is why we launched this great appeal.

Claire Carney Floral & Balloon Designs

Like the vast majority of other businesses, I had to completely close during the first Covid-19 lockdown. As the rainbow symbol gathered pace as a sign of recognition for our key workers and to have hope for the future, many balloon artists across the country created balloon rainbows to display for their local communities to see.

I placed my rainbow on the front of our house and it very quickly attracted positive attention, with many people saying how much it had brightened up their walk. In the following weeks I created more characters, some timed with local events (such as Captain Tom’s 100th birthday), or national dates (such as St George’s Day).

People very kindly donated a total of £300 which was sent to the amazing NHS Superheroes group run by another BLN member, Kerry Ellis, which helped to buy essential items to support our incredible NHS staff. It was a privilege to be able to do something which felt small to me, but actually lifted many people’s spirits, gave them something positive to talk about and helped others at the same time”. 

Epic Event Hire

Supporting charities and local causes is deeply rewarding and brings important positivity to our Epic Event Hire team. Over the years we have chosen to give our time and participate in fundraising for lots of organisations such as Keeping Abreast, Hamlet Centre, MIND and the Benjamin Foundation.

During the last 12 months we have also been determined to do as much as we could to help support our hard-working healthcare workers, so we joined a team of volunteers that created a local Facebook charity group called NHS Superheroes. The idea was to get as many people to join the group as possible and make a donation no matter how big or small so we could purchase items for NHS staff at the hospital and in the local community which they told us they desperately needed. 

With over 20,000 members it was a huge success and we raised a grand total of over £14,000 which was amazing! We were blown away by the support we received and couldn’t have been prouder.

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