Britain at Your Service

Supermarket_check_outWhat has become quickly apparent while only buying British is that the level of customer service we have received from the companies across the nation is fantastic. Almost without exception, the pleasure of dealing with the people we have come across out weighs the value if the items we are actually buying. Once you leave the sterile environment of the supermarket or the high street you find a wealth of people that really understand what they are selling. 

The pleasure of picking up the phone or receiving an email from somebody that actually cares about their products and, most of all, cares that you love the thing you are willing to purchase is a beautiful thing.

I remember my grandmother talking about the gradual decline of good service from the 1940-50’s but never really understood what this meant. I would like to share with you a recent and particularly memorable example:

One of the first things that I bought when we embarked on our mission to buy only British goods was a pair of Marko John’s socks. I had some communication with the man himself before receiving my package but it was the content of that package which left a lasting memory.

Tucked just inside the neatly folded fuchsia tissue paper and  resting on my brand new lavender coloured socks was a letter. This letter, printed on slightly buff Conquer paper, was a personal message of thanks for my first order. This was not some generic corporate platitude produced by a overactive marketing department – this was a genuine message of appreciation that I had chosen to invest my hard-earned money in something they had made. Opening this package was no longer about buying a pair of socks, it was almost like discovering a time capsule to a level of customer service long forgotten. It suddenly made me understand what my Grandma was talking about.

It must be said that this is not an isolated incident. Once we began ordering more from smaller manufacturers and retailers the more we began to experience the passions of the individuals directly involved in the product they are selling.

Such interactions now make buying the mundane into something really pleasurable.

– James


  1. I will be following your project with great interest over the year. I have one suggestion, which perhaps you already have in hand….. I would be interested to know how the costs stack up in this experiment.

    Is the myth that buying “British is more expensive” true?

    maybe you could have a running list of products you sourced and their costs both British and generic.

    I’m sure you are going to receive a lot of sponsorship type deals/freebies as suppliers vie for your attention but you could still run the figures for us all to see.

    What do you think? Is this possible?


  2. Alison says

    Hello! I am a new subscriber, one of your crop (I am sure) from the BBC website coverage. I am really interested in what you are doing and trying to at least buy from as locally as possible. My favourite British products are the amazing range of real ales available from small breweries. ~There is a great shop in Mansfield, Notts called ‘Hops in a Bottle’ where we can buy, and the service there is always incredibly good.

  3. Hello, I heard you on radio 2 and was fascinated with your project, and reading this post is heartwarming, so often we hear about the ‘bad stuff’ happening in this country on the TV/Newspapers that it’s so lovely to hear such great stories about the UK businesses who do care about their customers, I agree.. for each of my clients I wrap their order in a lovely bit of hand wrapped tissue, ribbon and a hand written and personal note to thank my customers, because I know that this is how I would like to be treated and I hope it shows my appreciation of them.

  4. It’s not easy trying to buy British – I have my own reasons, and its maybe not appropriate to go into them here. I do always try to stick to my morals but its not always possible. I recently bought some Grenson shoes. Admittedly, they cost me £120 which may appear expensive but when you realise what you are actually buying, they are hand-made in Britain with British leather etc. Equivalent Clarks shoes are in the £80 bracket and I believe that the Grensons will last many more years than other shoes, so they do actaully represent value for money and high quality. I bought them in a shop in Abergavenny (near-ish to where I live) and I’ve just come across a tailor in the same area who will make a suit out of British materials by hand for less than £300. Again, this may appear expensive but I’l give it a try. Most good quality suits are in this price range. I’d rather chance my money on British industry than a cheaper, imported alternative. Just bought some Cornish swede, welsh cheese and that will be used with british flour (you can find it), our own tomatoes preserved as a chutney and our own eggs to make pizza later, after I’ve sampled some beers crafted locally in our local pub (Red Cow, Llwydcoed)…..who make and sell home-made chicken and leek pies as well.

  5. Sandra says

    Hi, loveing what you are doing. we have been making a point of buying local from the likes of butchers, and farms and small companys for quite some time now.I think this is great,and i totaly agree,and understand what you are saying about customer care.that personal touch is so important.
    Kind regards sandra xx

  6. I totally agree with Sarah.We also love to present our customers purchases with attention to detail when packing.Tissue paper and bows have made an impact on all the testimonials we receive back from our happy customers.
    I think in Britain, customer service is key in standing out from so many giant corporate companies.It’s a thank you of appreciation to your buying customer.

    As you say, quality service makes a lasting impression.I hope Britain can once again return to quality service in the future.But the UK nation needs to start demanding it!

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