As a “triple-dip recession” is predicted and Britain prepares for further economic problems, it would be expected that smaller, private businesses unable to withstand the harsh economic climate would be currently suffering as their clientele find themselves compelled to look instead to larger chain stores for cheaper prices, albeit at the cost of product quality.


However, in St Margarets, it would appear that no such troubles are being experienced by its local, independent businesses. Indeed, over the past couple of years, the number of local boutiques appears to have multiplied as its residents see the appearance of such independents as Dolly Rock boutique and Kamilla’s Emporium. Beth Huett, part-owner of Dolly Rock explained that part of the attraction of St Margarets as a location for the boutique was its residents’ support for local businesses.


Such support is perhaps demonstrated by the recent disappearance of the St Margarets branch of Superdrug, Britain’s second largest health and beauty retailer. A local resident of St Margarets who would rather not be named, said of the chain “I remember a few years back when it [Superdrug] first appeared on our high street. I think it took over a furniture shop or something like that. Anyway, we were so annoyed by this horrible chain in the middle of our lovely high street that we tried to start a boycott against it! We couldn’t make it go then but I’m so glad it’s gone now – it didn’t belong here, taking over our little local shops.” Another resident however, Melissa, expressed her disappointment at the chain’s disappearance, explaining its usefulness due to the fact that she would now have to “go all the way to Richmond to buy my toiletries”.


While the usefulness of such chains cannot be disputed, by shopping in such places it is easy to forget about the local greengrocer or clothes shop, full of equally good, if not better, products. Through supporting local businesses, we contribute to an increase in product diversity as well as a greater sense of well-being in the community. And the part played by small and medium-sized businesses in Britain is often underestimated: at the start of 2012, small to medium-sized businesses employed 14.1 million people and attained a combined turnover of £1.5 billion pounds; small businesses alone accounted for 47% of private sector employment and 34.4% of turnover, demonstrating the vital part they play in the economy of Britain.


The people of St Margarets seem to appreciate the importance both socially and economically of local, independent businesses and, as long as their support for them continues, St Margarets can continue to flourish as the warm community it has always been.