Just 20% of the number of shoppers on the high streets were out shopping in May this year, and this led to concern about the survival of small businesses. In Birmingham, the advent of the online marketplace Floc helped residents to support local producers and independent food retailers when they couldn’t get to the highstreet. Initiatives like this provided a lifeline for small businesses, helping them to stay afloat through the hardest times. However, the story isn’t over, and local businesses still need our support. But this isn’t limited to food and drink retailers: we must now turn our attention to artists, craftspeople and independent retailers. Luckily, Birmingham is home to a place where you can support all these people under one roof, and it’s doors are open again: Ikon.

About Ikon 

Ikon has reopened its doors with new visiting guidelines, and is welcoming guests to new exhibitions this autumn. It’s well known as an internationally acclaimed art gallery, but it has become so much more than this, and supporting its shop is a great way to support local creatives, as well as ensuring this Birmingham gem thrives. Its bookshop is a valuable platform for local creatives, and supporting it not only helps Birmingham’s local economy; it helps the artists whose work is showcased there too. You’ll find Ikon Bookshop within the Ikon Gallery, and it’s well worth a visit. There are currently limits on the number of shoppers allowed in at one time, but this has its advantages: a clear shop floor makes it easier to see everything available, and this makes sure local artists’ work is seen.

Ikon Bookshop

The indie bookshop is dedicated to literature and creativity, and stocks everything from contemporary fiction to architectural journals. Ikon Bookshop is known for its support of local authors too, and this is an important consideration if you’re committed to supporting independent businesses. Ikon Bookshop has historically hosted book launches and other literary events, and these are crucial to the livelihood of local authors. There is a dedicated ‘Made in Birmingham’ section, where you’ll find a range of fiction written by local authors.

The stock is wide, however, and not just focused on local writers. The advantage of shopping with independent booksellers is that they care about your satisfaction as a reader. Big e-commerce sites may be easy and cheap, but they lack the personal touch, and they can’t recommend titles to suit your interests. Those who work in local businesses are more familiar with the variables that affect your satisfaction, and they care about making sure you find exactly the book you’re looking for. Ultimately, shopping for books from independent booksellers is a more rewarding experience than using big online retailers.

Supporting local authors, artists and designers

Ikon provides a platform for local designers and artists as well as writers, and its gift shop stocks unique jewellery, creative homeware and locally produced gifts. Many artists whose work is on display at the Ikon Gallery have art books in the shop, and the proceeds fund the exhibitions the gallery is able to put on. Combined with the local literature, the whole place provides support for a range of Birmingham’s native creatives.  

Local shopping is essential to Birmingham’s economy and keeping alive the small businesses that give the city its soul. In the case of Ikon, however, spending a little money there not only supports the business; it supports our local creators too.

AuthorJane Sandwood

Image credit: https://unsplash.com/photos/W5O0oXdYavU




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