Local hero: writing to promote local businesses

Arthur Hutchinson, with grandchildren

Say “local business” to someone and the various responses you get in return are quite fascinating. Some people initially picture a shop – say a butchers or a florists. Quite often they’ll throw in a smiley proprietor with rosey chops and an apron, welcoming you inside.

Say local business to someone else and they’ll picture someone working out of their living room, hunched over a keyboard with a slightly stressed look upon their face. Others will picture a similar scene, differing only by placing the central protagonist nearer to the fridge and television (How bloody dare they!).

What does local business mean to you?

Local business has meant a number of things to me throughout my relatively short lifetime on this crazy planet. My Grandpa, a wonderful chap by the name of Arthur Hutchinson, used to run a hardware shop called ‘Homecrafts’ in Long Eaton, the town in which I went to school in England. Grandpa was an incredibly kind and generous individual and my Grandma, Una, worked alongside him. There was a pet store next door, and my Aunty Betty looked after that.

“Arthur Hutchinson was a key figure on the local business scene in Long Eaton, Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire too.”

Ross Lowe

I used to love going to the hardware shop with my sister; it was a real rabbit warren of old wooden shelves crammed to the ceiling with screws, bolts, hooks, timber, tools and goodness knows what else. Grandpa was a bit of a hero to me and great fun too, but what I really loved was his reputation in the town. People genuinely loved the bloke. His hardware shop was one of those places where you could guarantee to come away with what you went in for, no matter how trivial, because all those little boxes and all the drawers and shelves within which they were stored were all neatly labelled. Arthur would always have the answer.

He was a key figure on the local business scene in Long Eaton, Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire too. He was a keen member of the Rotary Club – Master at Arms in fact (I don’t think that meant he had to get violent with people who hadn’t paid their subs – I think it was more of an administrative role, but a pretty cool title nonetheless) and he was a member of a number of local and national trade federations.

Arthur Hutchinson, with grandchildren
My Grandpa, Arthur Hutchinson, in his hardware shop ‘Homecrafts DIY’ in Long Eaton, Derbyshire.
That’s me and my sister stood in front of him.

Arthur Hutchinson was a great supporter of local business and knew countless shop owners by their first names. There was ‘Toffee’ Austin who ran the sweet shop in the square (okay – ‘Toffee’ wasn’t his first name), Gerry the butcher, Bill the accountant and many, many more. They all knew him too and all worked together to keep each other going. Long after he retired, Arthur continued to help out at the Rotary Club and support his fellow local traders.

Sadly, my fantastic Grandpa passed away a number of years before I went into business for myself and I was never able to pick his brains on the subject. He sold his shop and it’s now a backstreet bar. Most of the other local businesses have gone or have been passed down to sons and daughters. However, the Rotary Club remains and newer local businesses continue to work alongside more established ones to support and champion one another.

Image of Ross Lowe giving a talk at BforB Burton-on-Trent, Staffordshire
Giving a talk to BforB Burton-upon-Trent in my role as Group Moderator.
Photo: Phil Oakley

As for me, I realised the value of working with and supporting local business as soon as I set up my copywriting business and followed my Grandpa’s lead. Business networking has introduced me to some fantastic people and businesses who have become trusted suppliers, collaborators and friends. The fortnightly or monthly breakfast meetings are a terrific way to start the working day and get business done.  Back in England, I immediately joined 4N Nottingham once my copywriting business was up and running, and was proud to become their Marketing Co-Ordinator before later taking over as Group Leader for a very happy and successful year. At that time, I was also the Group Moderator at BforB Burton-upon-Trent in Staffordshire. Both groups were very different in style but both were designed to enable a flow of business and support for local traders in a huge variety of fields – which is exactly what they did.

Right now, as I live and work as a native English copywriter in Berlin, Germany, I’m still lucky enough to collaborate with and support many of the businesses I met through networking in the UK. Those early mornings and breakfast meetings were all well worth it!

Get networking with local businesses

If you’re starting out in business then I highly recommend that you get yourself along to a local networking group, or simply strike up a conversation with a local business owner. Once this becomes a good habit and you’ve got to know other businesses and given them the opportunity to know you, you’ll be amazed at the difference it makes.

My Grandpa was a proud business owner and, as a native English copywriter in Berlin, I am now too – passing on referrals and leads to trusted businesses and suppliers whenever I get the opportunity. Getting myself established as a professional copywriter locally, be it in Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire or Berlin, has enabled me to broaden my horizons and look even further afield too, but I’ll always be a proud supporter of local trade.

I hope Grandpa would be proud of me and what I’m doing.

I love to meet, work with and support local business.

If you’re a business in Berlin and you’d like to collaborate with a native English copywriter, share ideas or even just chat over a coffee then I would love to hear from you!

Please get in touch and let’s get something in the diary.

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