Local shops, restaurants and businesses are the fabric of our communities. One of the lessons learned from the pandemic has been the extent to which we rely on it.
While driving to a supplier recently, while driving through a medium sized town, I saw a street sign in front of a store: “If you want us here next year, shop here now!”
And that was it in a nutshell – use it or lose it.
Meeting the people where we live has a social and economic impact. The places where we meet are small shops: the café, the boutique, the office supply store, the pharmacy or the yoga studio. And the community members who own them need your help.
When you support a small business, you support a mainstay of the local economy and community.
It’s the economy, fool!
When we started Champion Green, May 2020 was a pretty bad time. Health and safety rightly dominated the national agenda. But business survival and the provision of local services and supplies were also vital.
Our voluntary coalition of industry and trade associations introduced consumer ads and practical business advice and support to bring local shoppers and business people together.
Communities rallied in support and realized how much they could count on the local butcher, baker and sweatpants maker.
Whether online or in person, we’ve discovered a wealth of great local products and services. And we ignite that spark of feel-good spirit when your purchase is more than just another possession or a staple in the closet, but a meaningful transaction that matters in the community.
The campaign also had the welcome support of economists. They calculated that for every £1 spent in Irish retail we generate up to £2.50 in the economy and that £1 spent online at an overseas retailer is lost from the Irish economy, impacting on jobs and local services affects.
Analysts also told us how household savings hit record highs and domestic online shopping improved significantly, albeit from a small base.
But whichever way we looked at the numbers, there was no mistaking that the pandemic has hit what we call non-essential retailers, as well as the hospitality and entertainment industries, very, very hard. And their direct and indirect employees suffered as a result.
My economics education generally focused on ‘what goes around goes around’. Basically, we need to keep the money circulating for the good of all.
In the month before Christmas, consumers will spend around 5 billion euros here. That’s a huge amount of money. And if we were to spend that money domestically, the direct correlation to jobs and local investment and the well-being of ordinary people would be strong.
Bring it back to simple economics and think of a few tips on how we can all help.
Shop locally – online or in person – for goods and experiences. Promote Locally: Engage on social media, post reviews, share the posts of your favorite stores. Sign up for newsletters to receive the best local events or special promotions. You will be pleasantly surprised.
Make a commitment to one small, manageable thing – buy a ‘local’ Christmas gift for every online purchase from an international retailer, for example.
Verify that .ie internet domains are actually locally owned or locally operated. Many global corporations have .ie domains, suggesting an Irish connection. However, a better guide is to register the company
Address in the “About” or “Terms and Conditions” section. If you unknowingly buy from a foreign company, you risk being held liable for customs and import fees, which can sometimes result in the price doubling, not to mention a possible delay in receiving your shipment.
Stock up on local business gift cards for spontaneous gifts or occasions you’ll forget. Selling can be of great help to a small business at a critical time, and it’s also a promise for later habits.
Similarly, shop now for later. Retailers compete on the basis of value for money. Beyond Christmas, think about anniversary gifts and birthdays and buy now to give away later. Small businesses appreciate the improved cash flow.
We formed good habits during Covid; everything from online gym classes to cooking to music lessons. Stay tuned in, either in person or online, and give away gift certificates for an original experience.
If you can, leave a tip. Hospitality and small business workers have lost income during the lockdown and these days inflation isn’t helping.
Buy books and stationery from smaller independent retailers, in store or online; Give Amazon a break and enjoy the haptic experience of browsing.
Tell family and friends about local small businesses you love. Word of mouth is amazing.
Marian O’Gorman is the founder of Champion Green and Chairman of Kilkenny Design
https://www.independent.ie/business/monday-insight-shop-local-give-a-lift-to-a-local-business-and-help-improve-your-community-42070948.html Monday Insights: Shop local, support a local business and help improve your community