Susan Bonnar, founder of The British Craft House and BuyIndie - the UK's alternative to Etsy.

A small  business advocate and founder of an independent retail platform is urging people to shop local for Christmas.

Susan Bonnar, the owner of The British Craft House, a platform dedicated to promoting all-British, independent, and handmade goods, is championing the cause of local businesses in Lee-on-the-Solent this festive season.

With a heartfelt plea, she emphasises the critical need for community support to ensure the survival of these small companies in the face of increasing competition from retail giants like Amazon.

Susan, who has been a staunch advocate for promoting UK small businesses, being an ambassador for Small Business Britain, believes that the Christmas season is a make-or-break period for many small businesses.


The struggles faced by these enterprises throughout the year, compounded by the cost-of-living-crisis, have left them vulnerable.

Susan said: “People have to realise that without our support, small independent shops will have no choice but to close. They can’t go on year after year with less and less support as the years go on.”

The impact of online retail giants on local businesses has been profound, with many struggling to compete with the convenience and pricing offered by companies like Amazon. Bonnar argues that the charm of local, handmade goods and the unique shopping experience provided by small businesses are worth preserving. “It’s as simple as buying a gift or two from a local shop or online retailer, like The British Craft House,” she urged.

The British Craft House, founded by Susan in 2019, serves as a platform for handpicked UK artisans to showcase their creations.

Susan took to the high street in Lee-on-the-Solent to speak to business owners about their experiences running their enterprises in the town.

Mark Brophy, owner of Caffe Lee, a local coffee shop and bar, said: ‘I would just encourage anyone to come to us or any business in lee to see what we’re about. It’s a growing community and we love it here.’

Leanne Dodd owns Boutique by the Sea, which sells gifts, clothing and more. She said: ‘These are livelihoods, these aren’t hobbies for us. You’ve got to have a bit of grit and determination to do it and we all club together and help each other.

‘The main crux is if you don’t support it, you’ll lose it and when you need it, it won’t be there. But the bigger picture is, there is a place in this country for every kind of business – you’ve got the big boys and us little small businesses which are the backbone of the country. We are the people who live in your community, we supply and support the community and that’s what it’s all about – community. Having that ability to touch, feel, see things, it’s all about community and that’s what we’re trying to keep alive and thrive.’

By supporting businesses like these, consumers contribute to the sustainability of a diverse and vibrant local economy.

Susan is confident that every purchase, whether from her platform or other local shops, makes a meaningful difference. ‘It’s true when they say that the seller does a little happy dance each time they make a sale.’ she said.