When it became obvious that traditional Christmas markets would not go ahead this year, small makers, traders and businesses immediately worried about losing out on a massive annual revenue opportunity.
So Alice and Adam Robinson from Bicester made a pledge to not let lockdown beat them and launched their own Bicester Virtual Christmas Fair to support their local small businesses, which is now live.
The idea soon gathered momentum and now has a busy Facebook group with more than 1700 members and almost 90 small businesses registered for the fair.
Makers, bakers, craftspeople, producers and artists are now selling their handmade products online as part of the project.
“The impact of this year has been devastating for small businesses, and one of the only things in our control right now is where we spend our money”
Adam said: “Alice came up with the idea after the first of her booked Christmas Fairs was cancelled due to Covid-19. We chatted about what a huge impact this would have on so many local businesses and the individuals who rely on them. Not only do people network there but also to shop local themselves.
Alice runs her own small business selling vegan and cruelty-free UK produced beauty products.
“If everyone made just one change to their consumer habits it would have a huge impact on the community”
Adam added: “We have had such a positive response from both customers and virtual stall holders since launching on November 1.”
So what can customers expect? “Everything you’d normally expect to see at a Christmas fair,” Adam says.
“We should all take a look at ourselves as consumers and find ways to shop locally”
This includes handmade candles, crafts, handmade jewellery, chocolate treats, original artwork, pottery, beauty products and cakes, to tie-dye sports socks and gifts for our four legged friends!
“There has never been a more important time to shop locally especially as we are all in the midst of another lockdown,” Adam adds. “The impact of this year has been devastating for small businesses, and one of the only things in our control right now is where we spend our money, if we want our local businesses to survive and prosper.”
Adam and Alice are obviously delighted with the response and hope that the fair will have a lasting and positive impact on the small business economy: “I am astounded at the array of talent on our socially distanced doorsteps and with 1700 members and counting we’re really hoping the group is able to fill the void of the cancelled Christmas Fairs this season.” they add.
“We should all take a look at ourselves as consumers and find ways to shop locally. If everyone made just one change to their consumer habits it would have a huge impact on the community.”
The couple have made a pledge this year to only buy presents from local businesses. “I implore that anyone reading this does the same. With the talent and variety on our Facebook page, the hardest thing now is deciding what to choose for everyone!” Adam laughs.
Alice added: “This fair means so much to so many, especially the community who will miss getting out at Christmas time! Shopping local is so important so come to our virtual fair.”
For more information join Bicester Virtual Christmas Fair 2020 on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/groups/2477678779198969/ and get shopping!