Perhaps you’ve already heard about the JUST A CARD campaign? If not, it’s a simple yet poignant story.
Artist and designer Sarah Hamilton was galvanised into action after talking to the owner of a much-loved local bookshop that had gone out of business. He told her that people had loved everything about his shop: the warm welcome and community atmosphere, seeing their children play in the reading corner, trawling through his latest titles so they could buy them online later (!) … but they often left empty-handed. “If only they had bought just a book”, she thought.
Shortly afterwards Sarah read a similar story in the newspaper. The owner of a recently-closed gallery had placed the following notice in their empty window: “If everyone who’d complimented our beautiful gallery had bought ‘just a card’ we’d still be open”.
For Sarah it was the proverbial lightbulb moment. And also the beginning of a grassroots campaign that not only has a practical mission, but also a message of celebration. JUST A CARD encourages people not just to buy from artists, makers, independent shops and small businesses, but also to support and value what they stand for.
So, yes, the JUST A CARD message is very much that all purchases, however small, are vital for the survival of the independent. But Sarah and her supporters also aim to raise awareness “of the joys and benefits that supporting independents bring.”
As Sarah very eloquently says, in this blog piece about her inspirational “Just a Book” campaign last year:
Our campaign highlights the link between thought and action so people realise that artists, makers, independent shops and businesses need more than just compliments to stay afloat. We celebrate all the joys and wonders they bring, and certainly would never say don’t buy online (there are huge benefits, and many independents sell online too) – it’s simply a question of balance.
Our campaign is not about tales of woe, guilt trips or desperate pleas. Quite the opposite, with the dedication and commitment of our team and followers, we’ve built an incredibly upbeat and impassioned community. Our message now needs to reach beyond it, to show everyone the magic in this creative world, to inspire them, to get them thinking.
When you buy from a small business, you aren’t just buying a’thing’…
As artists and makers ourselves, it’s no surprise that Chiswick Creatives members are vocal cheerleaders for the JUST A CARD campaign. But as the message above makes clear, our mission goes deeper than simply wanting our businesses to do well, to sell more. We also believe that creativity (in everybody) is something to be championed and nurtured, and that what we do has a value beyond the actual objects we create. Just as we get immense fulfilment from our making, our hope is that our work in turn brings great pleasure and a little bit of magic into people’s lives.
The JUST A CARD campaign is about helping to protect and preserve the richness, originality and diversity that small and independent businesses bring to our communities and our everyday lives. As well as being there for each other, part of the Chiswick Creatives ethos is to do all we can to support our local (and not so local) independent shops, galleries, cafes, markets and pop-up events. Life without them would be so much poorer.
Below is one of my favourite posts on the JUST A CARD Instagram account, and sums it up perfectly:
How can you support small and independent businesses?
It’s true that the JAC campaign was started to spread the message that compliments and warm wishes don’t keep small businesses in business. But it’s also a fact that even small purchases aren’t always possible (more so now than ever in these uncertain times). As we say on our About page, there are many other ways to support small and independent businesses. Your time, effort, energy and thoughtfulness are also hugely valuable and very much appreciated. Here are just a few suggestions:
write a positive review
tell your friends and family
follow them on social media
engage with their posts
give them a shout out
sign up for their newsletter
A date for your diary is the upcoming JUST A CARD – INDIE week, the independent alternative to Black Friday, that runs from 23 – 27 November. Everyone can get involved in the many planned activities, so if you’d like to learn more visit JUST A CARD – INDIE WEEK for ideas and suggestions.
Other colourful and fun ways to share the #supportsmall love are these brilliant resources that JUST A CARD has produced to help spread their message. Amongst the mix of downloadable and physical items you’ll find leaflets, posters, window stickers, postcards and badges. Below are just a few, and you can find the whole range at the JUST A CARD online shop (all purchases support the continuing work of the campaign).
Above: THE iconic symbol of the JUST A CARD campaign, this pin was designed exclusively for them by Angela Chick.