“It is vitally important people support their local shops,” said John Gardonyi, owner of Gardonyi’s Musical Instruments in Ealing. “Everyone gets to know people and it is all part of a community. It is priceless and it’s what life is all about.”
He moved into the premises in St Mary’s Road in 2004. He and his family had already lived in Ealing for four years before that, after moving from Paris.
And the role local shops play in residents’ lives, as a social hub as much as a place to buy what they need, cannot be overstated, John believes.
“It has become like a community here,” he said. “And that is so important.”
It feeds into his whole reasoning behind opening a music shop. Having been a drummer since a teenager and played in bands, John reluctantly decided to leave music as a side-interest to pursue a career in IT; but the shop offered a chance to return to his passion.
He said: “Having played in a band, I, and others, used to get annoyed in music shops. It was an Aladdin’s cave to us, but they were always full of people who didn’t want to be there and didn’t have time for you – they’d either be more interested in playing the instruments themselves, or people who didn’t want you to touch anything. I just hated it.
“I wanted a music shop that I would have dreamed of as a kid.
“If you stop people playing it defeats the whole purpose of the shop. I want to encourage people to learn music instruments, or return to playing them.
“I do not know how many people must have been through here, but it is immensely satisfying knowing we’ve played a small part in their musical journey.”
Never a better time to shop local
It is Small Business Saturday on 4 December and the build-up to Christmas is a critical time for the local economy. There is never a better time to shop local.
Using statistics from campaign group Totally Locally, you can calculate that if every adult in the borough spent £5 a week locally it would be worth a staggering £72 million per year to the borough’s economy.
Local businesses not only create local jobs but also generate revenue to support local charities and fund local services such as libraries, parks and roads that benefit the whole community. Local businesses also often stock unique and locally-made items and are experts at what they do.
If that were not enough to make up your mind, there is also a green reason to stay close to home. Sourcing local goods is better for the environment, reduces your carbon footprint, reduces the amount of packaging used and can save you time and money on travel.
But, as John said, there are other reasons to shop local too…
‘We can provide a personal touch’
“I’ve always thought human contact is so important. We’re social animals and people like to come in and ask questions and touch and feel the instruments. For a child, you want to check the size of the instrument and get them to hold it and see if it’s right, and get help and advice. You don’t get that online – you can’t do it, and you’re never 100% sure what you are getting.
“We can’t compete in terms of choice with the big online companies, but we can provide a personal touch and the human element – and I think that’s the big difference.
“It is vitally important people support their local shops. Everyone gets to know people and it is all part of a community. It is priceless and it’s what life is all about.
“We are very blessed here because people get that. I meet people every day and you end up talking with them for half an hour or so. I really does matter. It is what communities are all about.”
‘People thought the pandemic would kill our business’
The shop received financial support during the pandemic, with grants issued through the council. “That propped us up,” said John. And he also used time in lockdowns to set up a website for the shop.
“I think a lot of people thought the pandemic would kill our business. But we’re still here. We were deemed non-essential and could only open when we could. But customers all started to resurface and it is great.
“We are more about entry level instruments and that marks us apart from other shops. We are busy around September as people go back to school and Christmas is also a big time of the year – with people buying gifts. It could be bits and pieces as stocking fillers, such as books, capos, guitar tuners and that kind of thing. But ukuleles have become more popular than ever, too.”
Love Ealing, Love Local
You can also help support local businesses by joining the ‘Love Ealing, Love Local’ campaign celebrating our high streets and local businesses:
- Visit and buy from your local high street, even something as small as buying a coffee or picking up something locally that you could otherwise buy online with a major retailer can make a big difference. Then post about it on social media using hashtag #LoveEalingLoveLocal and tag @EalingCouncil on Twitter, @EalingLondon on Facebook and @ealingcouncil on Instagram
- You can also help your local businesses without spending a penny by taking time to leave online reviews of businesses you love and spreading the word by telling others about positive experiences. Like, follow and share your favourite businesses on social media. Engage with their posts and share their stories.