What's essential retail anyway?

I'm very sad to say that the second Seekology store will be closing its doors again at 8pm tonight. It's been fantastic having this beautiful space inside bhuti, and we'll be open on 2nd December if we can be - otherwise as soon as restrictions are lifted.
 
In the meantime, we'll be offering Click & Collect and local delivery in the Richmond area, so if you are local you can still support small brands this Christmas*. As I wrote in my previous blog on the topic, I really can't stress enough how important this is!
 
I certainly don't envy politicians having to balance really difficult decisions across both the short and long term for the economy and for public health. Given where we are now, it seems to be an impossible choice (I'm not going to get started on my political views, don't worry). 
 
But the new lockdown rules do beg the question: what is essential retail? 
The recent decision in Wales that supermarkets could open but not sell non essential goods was met with derision and horror - how could anybody think that sanitary products are not essential?
 
And yet, when supermarkets in the first nationwide lockdown were still able to sell non essential goods there was outcry from other retailers who had been forced to close. 
 
Either way the closure of most shops bodes well for the big online retailers and poorly for the independents in particular. 
 
As the founder and CEO of Seekology - a new retailer for independent beauty + wellbeing brands, launched only in 2019 - a second lock down just 8 weeks after opening our second store is potentially devastating. Not just for us, but also for the 20+ brands that we have in our new store, who were all gearing up for an exciting Christmas sales period. 
 
And having seen the impact on our customers when they've purchased some of our products, I consider non essential retail something incredibly hard to define.
 
If you can't go out to a fitness class but want to buy a yoga mat to exercise at home, isn't this essential for both physical and mental well being?
 
With a recent UK study showing over 50% of people experiencing anxiety, if you need supplements or aromatherapy products to help you sleep, isn't this essential too? 
 
And so it goes on. I'm not pretending there any easy answers to this conundrum. But what I do know is that independent shops definitely fall into the "use it or lose it" category.
 
If you do have to shop online because your favourite independent has closed, I beg you today to please take an extra 5 minutes to search online for independent brands. You make a genuine difference when you buy from them directly or seek out a place like Seekology where we have curated a fantastic selection of independent for you to shop from in one go.
 
This is an appeal to support a way of life. The shops you want to see on your street. The entrepreneurs of the future. The individuals (and their families) who have put blood, sweat and tears into their businesses and want to see them survive. 
 
And remember, these early stage entrepreneurs are running the businesses of the future. Everybody had to start small once: household names like Jo Malone, Liz Earle, Chrissie Rucker at The White Company, Laura Tenison at Jojo Maman Bebe - if we don't save our small businesses now, we'll lose a whole generation of them before they even have the chance to flourish.
 
In short, please, please think about where you spend your money this year.
 
Rebecca
 
*If you're local to us, here are some of our favourite small brands - go and find them online:
 
Curated Man / Woman - carefully curated contemporary fashion, with lots of lovely Scandi brands
Susan Clarke Jewellers - fine jewellery (they take commissions if you're looking for something special)
The Alligator's Mouth - wonderful children's bookshop, who do local delivery
Nordic Outdoor - lovely outdoor wear and equipment
Bramble & Moss - the most beautiful flowers you have ever seen