Local businesses of the East End Trades Guild has been working together to create an online store, the East End Store. The platform is an alternative to Amazon and one that forms a vital support network between businesses that have been forced to close during lockdown.
Essentially functioning as an online high street, customers can find a wide variety of products from local shopkeepers, independent traders and small businesses including the Roman’s very own fine wine and deli store, Symposium. Ones that are slightly further afield include The Bespoke Candle Maker, the online-only business making their wares exclusively in East London and Aldgate Press, the offset litho printing shop based in Bow.
A short walk from the Roman is Vyner Street, where more businesses who are operating via the East End Store can be found, including Italian grocery shop 4Cose as well as the UK’s oldest brolly store. Founded in 1805, James Ince Umbrellas meticulously crafts its goods and sources material from as close to home as possible.
Alike to Amazon in that customers can shop from their homes, what makes the East End store unique is that it is made up of a tight-knit community of local businesses. Launched this December, just in time for the Christmas shoppers, the platform is proving popular with local residents as well helping strengthen the wealth of local high streets.
With the third lockdown having been recently announced, the Guild’s alliance looks to be an important way of helping small businesses through what is a difficult time.
‘Our mission is to bring together small and micro-enterprises that are the lifeblood of communities and places which are increasingly left out of the wealth of our cities. We seek to bridge relationships and cultivate community wealth, by building influencing structures from the bottom up,’ says co-founder of the organisation, Krissie Nicolson.
Formed in 2012 by Nicolson with over 300 small local business owners, the Guild works as an alliance between independent shops and companies.
‘We’re stuck in this lockdown for a while’, says Nicolson. ‘We now have more members on board which is great because it encourages other local businesses to join too. We want to help support the community as much as we can and a large part of that is to keep the wealth in the community.’ SNAP, the independent store selling greeting cards and colourful handmade gifts on Roman Road, is one of the founding members of the Guild. Although Helen, who runs SNAP, is not aboard the online store yet, she will be in the near future, as East London’s answer to Amazon continues to go from strength to strength.
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