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Columnist Michael Apichella embraces the 'Love Local' mantra in Bury St Edmunds

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According to this paper, some of our town’s taken on ‘a slight red tint these past few weeks’, a fact reflecting the stickers promoting the Bury Free Press ‘Love Local’ campaign benefiting marketplaces such as St John’s Street and elsewhere.

Of course, cynics may grouse. “Who cares about a few niche shops and a few of pokey specialty places?”

Firstly, saying there are only a few niche shops is fake news. There are scores of independent shops around Bury St. Edmunds – and apart from offering personalised service and value for money, no two independent shops are quite alike.

St John's Street - home to a plethora of independent stores
St John's Street - home to a plethora of independent stores

Most people have seen the Christmas classic It’s a Wonderful Life. That’s the Frank Capra movie in which unassuming George Bailey gets to see what his hometown of Bedford Falls, USA, would be like had he not been born.

It’s an interesting idea. Which of us honestly feels like we make that great a difference in this big, often impersonal world? Sure, perhaps if Winston Churchill, Steve Jobs or Nobel laureate Malala Yousufzai hadn’t been born we’d feel the dire effects.

Imagine the plight of Europe had Churchill simply not been there to rally the UK to stand up against the Nazis in the 1930s and 1940s. And while some would say we’d all be better off without Apple products, it’s beyond dispute that Jobs embraced the potential for the personal computer long before the rest of us. And a world without plucky Malala? Unthinkable! She’s been named as a ‘forward-thinking, high-achieving and an inspirational role model’ to females across the world, and even I’ve been inspired by her to be a better, braver person, too.

They are big people. Yet It’s a Wonderful Life proves that you don’t have to be huge if you want to make a difference in the lives of the many people around you, as George Bailey discovers. You just have to be there, rather like our independent traders!

Michael Apichella (7810026)
Michael Apichella (7810026)

For example, Clarence the angel mentions that George wasn’t around to save his kid brother Harry; so, Harry wasn’t there to save almost 1,000 men from certain death on a US transport-carrier during World War Two some 20 years later. That’s only one example of how a person affects so many other lives. As the angel explains to George: “One man’s life touches so many others, when he’s not there, it leaves an awfully big hole.”

That’s the point of the Love Local campaign. Bury would be left with a mighty big hole without our independent traders. Take St John’s Street. It was laid out in the early Victorian period after the train station and St John’s Church had been built. Since then, it’s not only provided a safe, picturesque home for countless families, it’s grown into a business magnet that daily draws new life and revenue to Bury. Micks Cycles has been there since 1970, when Mick Hailstone started-out. His granddaughter Chloé Hailstone’s now manager, and she told this newspaper recently: “Customers come from as far away as Cambridge, Norwich and Ipswich to shop here.”

As editor of this paper, Barry Peters says Bury Free Press is supporting this campaign to champion the cause of our local traders and let you know why spending your hard-earned cash locally is of such a great benefit to where you live. “So before you go on that search engine and look for something for a birthday or anniversary, think about the benefits of shopping locally.”

Clearly, if we lose our independent retailers sector, it’ll be like losing our very own George Bailey. And, as Capra proved in It’s a Wonderful Life, that would be a disaster.