Wherever I travel in the world, I make the effort to buy locally made souvenirs and support local people. At the very least I make sure I buy a gift that is actually made in the country I am visiting.
On a recent visit to Australia in October 2015 I was impressed by a shop at Sydney airport selling purely Australian made gifts for travellers. The shop, called Purely Australian carries a wide range of Australian made products – fridge magnets, soft toys, wax jackets and bags, microfibre glasses cleaning cloths, sports clothes such as tracksuit tops, jumpers, wooly hats, Akubra hats, fridge magnets, and much more – all made in Australia. Purely Australian is Australia’s leading retailer of Australian clothing, offering a product range that reflects the fundamentals of nature, including Australian grown cotton and fine pure new wool. The Purely Group, which operates this shop, has operated retail outlets for the past fifteen years, with its primary focus on airport retailing throughout Australia. The Purely Australia Sydney Airport branch is located at Pier B after immigration control at Sydney International Airport and if you are in Sydney is a great place to shop. There are other shops at Sydney Airport selling Australian made products too, although Purely Australian seems to be the only selling just Australian made as opposed to some Australian made and mostly Chinese made souvenirs. At British airports and seaports you’ll be lucky to find anything that is not foreign made, which in some ways is strange given that in Great Britain secondary industry produces far more goods than does Australia.
The products on sale at Purely Australian stores mostly seem to carry the Australian Made logo. The Australian Made, Australian Grown logo is administered by Australian Made Campaign Limited (AMCL), a not-for-profit public company established in 1999 by the Australian Chamber of Commerce & Industry (ACCI) and the network of state and territory chambers of commerce, with the cooperation of the Federal Government. AMCL is not a government body and does not receive government funding for its core operations, which are licensing companies to use the logo and promoting Australian products both in Australia and overseas. Originally the campaign and logo were conceived by the government of Australia. The criteria for using the logo are clear – essentially the product has been manufactured in Australia (not just packaged or assembled); and 50% or more of the cost of making it can be attributed to Australian materials and/or production processes; or else grown/produced in Australia, with all of the product’s significant ingredients grown in Australia and all or nearly all of the processing has been carried out in Australia. What I like about both the campaign and the shop are the simple and clear way it is carried forward. In answer to the question “Why buy Australian Made?”, the response is simple too – “It’s good for consumers, it’s good for business and it’s good for Australia.”
My question is why can’t the Brits operate stores at our airports and seaports providing British made souvenirs, in the same way that Purely Australian stores are committed to providing an all-Australian souvenir experience and why can’t the Brits have a simple and clear buy British campaign like the Australian Made one?
There are a few Buy British campaigns currently running, such as those promoting the use of the logos below:
There are physical shops in the UK, like Things British, that only sell gifts and souvenirs that are made in the UK but non at Britain’s ports and airports that I am aware of. There are some local shops only selling British, like Buford Woodcraft. Jail Dornoch at Inverness Airport is one of the few gift shops at a British airport that does sell quite a few British made items but still alongside much that is foreign made. There are gift shops who sell a good range of British made gifts (alongside Chinese made tat), such as some of the museum gift shops – The London Transport Museum shop, and the National Trust shops.
On the web there are sites selling only British made such as Things British (selling only British made gifts, and supporting British designer-makers), Made in These Isles (selling British made clothes, accessories, homeware, beauty products, furniture, lifestyle products, etc; all products are “produced from within the geographical region of the British Isles”), The Great British Exchange (trade only; they source new British made products and sell them to retailers), The Great British Home (selling gifts, and homeware made in the UK), From Britain with Love (Scandinavian inspired homeware, accessories and gifts made in Britain) and DreamGB (selling British made gifts and everyday products), Pickle (“All of our products are made in the UK” they tell us – throws, picnic rugs, kitchen ware, vases, children’s shoes, toys, cards, jewellery, Christmas decorations and so on), Make The Most Of (an online networking community and seller of British goods and services direct from the providers; although the site promotes British business I do not think everything they sell is British made) and others selling gifts and more like Made Closer, Handmade GB and Not on the High Street that clearly label country of origin and sell some British made gifts. There are gift manufacturing companies too like Custom Works (trade only; they manufacture more than 50 product lines here in their factory in Bo’ness, Scotland, with everything else they sell being imported). Victoria Eggs homeware, gifts and cards are mostly made in Britain – aprons, oven mitts, tea towels, mugs which disappointingly are foreign made but are printed in the UK, cushions, screen prints, coasters, tote bags, greetings cards and gift wrap.
There are many more companies making gift items in the UK too of course. There are websites encouraging us to buy British such as Buy British, British Family, British Made for Quality, Made in Britain, Back British Farming by the NFU, and of course my site ukmade, but non supported by the British government.
If you travel to say Japan, Australia, New Zealand, the USA, France, or Thailand, you can easily find plenty of products that are made domestically. In this article by the British Family, James explains that they had a similar experience recently in Italy and were impressed by the number of domestically produced items easily available. As James challenges us to do in this article about Italy, look around the any British high street and see if you can find anything made in Britain!
Manufacturing in the UK allows companies to control supply, guarantee quality, offer flexibility and to be ethical and environmentally sound. I encourage you to buy products that are made in the British Isles (excluding the Republic of Ireland) and British Overseas Territories and if buying non-British made items I would encourage you to look at goods manufactured within the Commonwealth first. When buying a jumper, a piece of furniture or a bag of apples, do you check to see where it has come from? Why not make a conscious preference to buy British made? You may have to look that bit harder as lots of goods on the High Street are foreign made these days, but Britain still makes most things. I’m backing Britain. Are you?