BY KERRY ANDERSON
Every dollar we spend has a multiplier effect in a rural community.
Dare I say it? Yes, it’s almost that time of the year again and the start of the annual Christmas shopping frenzy.
Well-meaning people are circulating messages about how we all should ‘Shop Local’ and avoid the internet. Of course, shopping local is great but it’s not quite that simple as everyone who lives in a small rural community knows. The reality is that our options are quite limited.
But there is still much we can do as rural residents with buying power. Here are three tips.
#1 Support our local businesses
First and foremost we can support those few local businesses that we do have in town. Make sure you give plenty of notice of what you’re seeking and they might just be able to order it in. And a gift doesn’t have to be a product; it can also be a voucher for a service, anything from gardening to computer maintenance which my parents always appreciate.
Christmas Shopping nights are a great way to raise funds for a local charity with participating businesses opening after hours and offering discounts on a designated night in late November or early December.
#2 Support other rural towns
Secondly, we can support other rural towns. My work takes me all over rural Australia so I’ve already started my Christmas shopping by purchasing the odd gift or two as I browse the shops. You would be amazed at what I found in the most unexpected places. Rural businesses tend to diversify so you can find unusual gifts in newsagents, post offices, and cafes. Recently I discovered that the Pyrenees Butcher in Avoca also stocks local beer and wines. Instead of heading to the city why not plan a pleasant day cruising around the wider district and visit other rural towns.
#3 Research online suppliers
And thirdly, in the midst of a digital technological revolution, it is ridiculous to demonise on-line shopping especially when some of those online businesses are rural based and gaining benefit from a wider geographic audience. Check out the ‘about’ or ‘contact’ section to see where they are located. You may well find that you are supporting a young person in a rural community such as my own daughter whose business, Fair Dinkum Dog Coats, is totally online.
Every dollar we spend in a rural town has a multiplier effect in a rural community. It helps keep small businesses alive and retains jobs for local people.
KERRY ANDERSON: Author of ‘Entrepreneurship: It’s Everybody’s Business,’ Kerry works with small businesses and rural communities to help them embrace new opportunities. READ MORE