"Shop local this Black Friday," indies urge amid 'rip off' warnings and the growing Just A Card movement

Just A Card launched Indie Week this week in a bid to counter today's Black Friday event and support the independent retailer.
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A campaign to help the struggling independent kick back against the tide of multiples has launched ‘indie week’ in a bid to counter this year’s Black Friday.

Called Just A Card, the scheme aims to encourage people to buy from independent galleries and shops by reinforcing the message that all purchases, however small, even ‘just a card’, are vital to the survival of small businesses.

The campaign has so far picked up nearly 50,000 followers on social media and has grown into a nationwide initiative helping some 10,000 independent retailers in their struggle against the big name High Street stores.

The initiative was launched three years ago by Sarah Hamilton a London based artist who felt compelled to help after hearing stories of independent retailers going out of business at the hands of the majors.

The campaign has taken particular effect this week in the run up to today’s Black Friday day of online deals and heavy discounting among larger retailers. Black Friday has grown in popularity here in the UK over recent years as the event in which consumers can secure ‘big savings’ on products ahead of Christmas.

However, many national media outlets have issued warnings to those shopping online this year, to be wary they are not “getting ripped off.”

Last year, Citizens Advice received more than 13,000 complaints last year frm people having problems buying from online market places. Radio Aire News reported on the story, stating that “you might be keen to get a Black Friday bargain in Leeds today, but if you are doing it online, the advice is not to get ripped off.”

An easy solution to avoid the issue, suggests Lisa Clay, owner of the Leeds toy shop, Armadillo Toys, is to shop local.

“Re Black Friday,” she said via Twitter. “You can get great deals when you shop local, and risk free. We can’t always compete, but please make sure the bargain you think you are getting is real.

“I check prices every day and Amazon is often more expensive than us and if it’s cheaper, it is often only by a penny or two.”

Clay herself is backing the message of the Just A Card initiative this year whose key aim is to “remind everyone that shopping small is a must this Christmas.”

Just A Card’s founder Hamilton told The Guardian: “We’re doing something about what we see as a really big problem. Running a shop is often a labour of love. Without dedication and passion, and crucially sales, it would be another boarded up eyesore.”

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