Today is Small Business Saturday – a day dedicated to the family businesses, local shops and cafés, one-man-bands and small manufacturers who do so much for our communities.

At the New Forest Marque, we champion small businesses all year round, but we never pass up an opportunity to celebrate our wonderful local producers. This weekend, we’ll be making an extra effort to shop locally and support some of the wonderful individuals who dedicate their lives to bringing us top quality products.

If you’re wondering why you should consider shopping locally in the New Forest and beyond, here are some of our favourite reasons.

1. It’s a more sustainable choice

By shopping from your local stores, you’ll be helping to reduce transportation costs and emissions, which in turn helps to reduce air pollution and conserve energy. You’re also supporting local agriculture, which helps to preserve the natural resources and biodiversity of the Forest.

With so many delicious, top quality products available right here on our doorstep, there’s no need to buy food which has travelled thousands of miles or which uses so much unnecessary packaging. By looking out for the New Forest Marque, you’ll know your produce meets our strict criteria to be grown, reared and produced right here in our community –  reducing the overall impact food has on the environment.

2. It circulates money back into your local economy

The simple act of shopping locally can have a big impact on your community. When you make a purchase from a small business, you can see where your money is going. You won’t be topping up huge corporate profits, but helping to support a local family instead.

Your purchase will have a knock on effect for the business. You could help to provide a job for a local person, utilise valuable local resources, and importantly, help an individual to continue pursuing their dream.

3. It preserves the heart and soul of our communities

Our local shops, cafés, farms and bakeries are the heart and soul of our communities. By staying engaged with these small businesses, you’ll help to keep them alive in a time when the Great British High Street is rapidly declining.

In this day and age, we can order everything we could ever need online. But shopping locally provides an unrivalled opportunity to connect with local people, meet and make friends with like-minded folk, and enjoy face-to-face human contact.

4. You’ll enjoy top quality products

All the amazing small businesses who bear the New Forest Marque have worked hard to meet our strict criteria. It’s only awarded to produce which has been grown, reared, caught, brewed, produced or processed within the New Forest – ensuring you have access to the very best, top quality products around.

Many of the bigger corporations focus on profits and sales over quality, whereas our members live and breathe their produce. If you’re looking for high quality ingredients and produce, look no further than your local shops.

5. You’ll benefit from the expertise of local producers

Whether you’re shopping for staples like meat, dairy and vegetables, or you’re looking for an extra special item such as honey, shortbread or a bottle of gin – by shopping locally, you can often speak directly to the person who grew, produced or made the products you’re buying.

When you shop locally, you can often ask questions, be advised and enjoy recommendations directly from the horse’s mouth. It doesn’t get much better than that.

If you’re based in the New Forest or the surrounding area, you’ll be spoiled for choice this #SmallBusinessSaturday. With countless local shops, independent cafés, farmer’s markets and more to enjoy, you can get everything you need while supporting our brilliant local producers.

Look out for the New Forest Marque when you’re shopping this weekend for your sign of true, local produce.