This picture of independents at the heart of the community comes from a survey by Opinion Matters of 1,100 retailers to mark National Independents Day this week. More than half (55%) said many of their customers came in to gossip as much as to shop.
The key motivation for three quarters of independents is to build the business as an investment for later life.
However, small shopkeepers are doing so in the face of anxiety over the huge marketing budgets available to the big four.
The average independent retailer works more than 13 hours a day, with 25% working 15 to 18 hours a day.
And the increasing burden of red tape is a concern for family shopkeepers.
Sixty two per cent said that red tape was a burden that was hampering their businesses.