COLUMN: Let’s all go independent for a better Sheffield

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It is undeniable that at a time when the city centre struggles to reinvent itself on a grand scale that some may wonder what Sheffield’s ‘unique selling point’ is or if it even has one.

Today the city braces itself for a future impacted by unrelenting cuts that has seen the council workforce slashed, whilst the workload has not. 
Times are changing and perhaps it does not require us to reinvent the wheel. I believe it can, in part, be found in the increasing abundance of small local retailers and businesses in Sheffield who are becoming the great attraction of a great city built on steel and industry. 
Our plethora of quarters are buzzing with dynamic community activity, artisan producers, street traders, artists, makers and shopkeepers running their inspired quirky shops, street markets, cafes and bars and doing so with a real passion. The city is making itself heard and we can support it by choosing to buy local and independent. Everyone wins and we encourage the city’s unique and dynamic entrepreneurs and our communities to step up the pace. 
Made in Sheffield is a value to live up to, championed by many to include those who herald ‘independents’ like Now Then Magazine, Sheffield Live TV and Radio and those who stand up when they believe planning’s gone wrong. Sheffield fails to sell itself and by the leaflet displays the railway station you’d assume Meadowhall is the only attraction. There is more soul to Sheffield and despite improvements in marketing Sheffield, more could be done to draw on its strengths. It has started - the city is becoming a more vibrant and exciting place to live, work and play. 
Areas like the Sheffield Antiques Quarter are giving the city a cutting edge that improves the health of the local economy as well as the well-being of its communities. This quarter came together as 21 businesses four years ago on the foundations of a thriving antiques trade thatdecades ago took a downturn. Today, through collaboration and quite simply ‘putting minds together’ the quarter is a hub of 60 core businesses specialising in vintage, retro, antiques, arts, salvage, artisan produce, events and entertainment. 
It’s a vision for the entire area and perhaps we can all build on a model that looks closer to home, pulls our communities together and takes and is given more responsibility to support the work of the council, the police and partners. ‘Society’ has disempowered us and it’s time we became part of the bigger picture where buying becomes personal and harps back to better days when community meant more. So let’s all go local and independent for a better Sheffield.