Buying from local shops is something many of us aspire to, but it’s not always possible to do it all the time.

But even small, regular local purchases can make a big difference.

Mark Craggs is one of the 750 local businesses that have so far registered on Buy Local, the online business directory set up by the county council to bring together local businesses and their customers.

He says if one small good thing comes from the Covid-19 pandemic, he hopes it’s that people keep buying local produce.

Mark set up Proper Pizzas three years ago with his wife, Emma, converting a horsebox into a portable pizza parlour with a wood-fired oven.

He was expecting a busy year, having started taking bookings for weddings. But when Covid-19 hit, the weddings were postponed and Mark was forced to think about the future – but instead of worrying, it made him realise how lucky he is and the importance of buying locally.

He said: “I try to buy a lot of my produce locally. If we can get what we need from a local business, then we absolutely should.

“A lot of those places were open and had stuff in when the bigger supermarkets didn’t. We should all switch our attention to supporting our local community, because it’s important. If there’s one good thing to come out of this pandemic I hope it’s that, continuing to support local businesses.”

But he understands it’s not always possible to buy everything from local producers.

He said: “It’s not about people buying all their goods from farmers’ markets. Just changing your habits a little bit. Small businesses like mine would appreciate buying meat from the butchers, fruit and veg from the local veg shop, beer from the off licence.

“Those small and often habits will give small businesses like mine in the area stability and a chance to flourish in the future.”

Proper Pizzas began after Mark struggled to get a takeaway pizza in his village, Pepper Arden near East Cowton, so began making his own. With a friend, this developed into converting the horsebox and selling pizzas at farmers’ markets plus doing takeaways, before starting to cater weddings and events.

He said: “We’ve basically had all our business wiped out for a year. At first people who had us booked for their wedding rescheduled to a date later in the year, then when it became clear that wouldn’t happen, next year.

“Obviously you do worry about these things, but looking at the key workers across North Yorkshire and the effort they’ve gone to during this pandemic, it does make me feel relieved and lucky.

“I like to look at it that my glass is always half full. That business isn’t lost, it’s just moved to next year and I do appreciate that. The business overall has given me a completely different pace of life.

“About three years ago, my wife lost her mother to cancer. It all happened quite suddenly, and that’s what made us decide to go for it. You don’t know what is around the corner.

“It’s gone from strength to strength, we practiced a lot making pizza at home first, too.”

Mark joined Buy Local to strengthen this sense of community and, ultimately, to be able to support other small businesses.

He said: “We're all independent businesses trying to find stability in order to flourish and grow, so trying to build relationships can only be a positive thing.”

You can find a wide range of goods and services on Buy Local, and businesses can register here.