East End shops come together to rival Amazon this Christmas

Richard Ince, of Ince Umbrellas, holding a yellow umbrella

Richard Ince, of Ince Umbrellas, has signed his shop up to the scheme - Credit: East End Trades Guild

Umbrella makers, jewellers and other independent stores in Tower Hamlets have joined forces to provide Christmas shoppers with an alternative to Amazon this week. 

As London moved into Tier 3 coronavirus restrictions, the East End Trades Guild announced it had set up a one-stop online shop, bringing together more than 20 businesses. 

It is estimated the pandemic has cost small businesses an average of £17,074, with seven per cent of small businesses permanently closing in the capital. 

Krissie Nicolson, the East End Trades Guild’s executive director, said: “If done collectively, a small act of conscious consumer power can make a big difference to family run businesses.  

“Our members are working incredibly hard to negotiate for fair rents, the uncompromising landlords are making the situation unbearable for them.  

“But we’ve seen how supportive the community has been and we hope we can offer a quick way to access local goods and services now and for future lockdowns.” 

The scheme follows the East London Advertiser’s Shop Local campaign, calling on readers to support the stores and businesses on our doorstep who are struggling because of coronavirus. 

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Studies show 66 per cent of shoppers are now more likely to shop local compared to last year, with 49 per cent saying it is because they want to help small businesses recover from the worst recession on record.   

The businesses involved in East End Store – a "rival to Amazon" - includes the UK’s oldest umbrella manufacturer James Ince & Sons umbrellas in Bethnal Green and ethical clothing outlet Brokedown Palace, Shoreditch. 

Brokedown Palace’s owner Dee O’Connell said: “We love being part of our local community, so it's an honour to be in the East End Store alongside our awesome fellow members.” 

The East End Trades Guild launched a legal fund in October against steep rent increases forcing out businesses even before the pandemic. 

This includes Gardner’s Bags, a traditional Spitalfields business since 1870, which had to move out to Leyton after four generations in Commercial Street run by the same family.  

To browse and buy from the store, visit eastend.store