Small independent retail stores exist in a commercial + community ecosystem. Just like any other ecosystem, naturally occurring or human-made, thriving versus simply surviving depends on many factors. That's precisely why I loved coming across the Rewild Retail campaign by Ankorstore, a leading European wholesale B2B platform for independent retailers.
Creating the conditions where the field independents can thrive. Bringing diversity back to our towns and city centers. - Ankorstore
Whether scattered across town or nestled side-by-side on the main street, individual independent retail stores are threads in the fabric of a community. Each store adds its unique expression to the shared streetscapes by way of window displays, signage, and the energy created by its curated mix of merchandise. Together, they attract people—residents and visitors—while adding visual vibrancy to the community.
Once threads are tightly woven or roots are deeply in place in the community, these shops can often be taken for granted (it's much easier to sense the excitement of a new opening or the loss of a beloved store closure). Yet like in nature, evergreen shops are well-nurtured by the ecosystem and make our communities much brighter and stronger, even if they exist in the background of our everyday lives. Other small shops are more perennial-like as they come and go, showing their flare and then disappearing for another season of life to begin. The empty shopfronts these perennials leave behind are seedlings full of potential ready to be "re-wilded" through the passions, interests, and expertise of a new shopkeeper.
There are great examples of such seedlings growing and thriving in the Rewilding Retail with Mary Portas YouTube series. I deeply related to each shopkeeper in different ways; it takes a lot to run a shop and throw your trust, time, energy, and finances into the ecosystem of your community. Though there's so much at the heart of the subject matter that each episode could easily be an hour long, the messages in this short series are something to be celebrated.
No longer a shopkeeper myself, I, too, am finding ways to celebrate the present and future independent shopkeepers. One is by writing a book (some of the words I wrote for it over one year ago are shared above), and the other is a new Instagram account to share and celebrate the small shops I come across in South Australia. Both are passion projects that I hope, in their way, may contribute to the community + commercial ecosystem that gave so much to me.
You can take the girl out of the shop, but ya can't take the shop out of the girl.