In response to the extra pressures being put on our business community by the COVID-19, the Kiama & District Business Chamber has brought forward the launch of this year’s Think Local, Buy Local campaign.
The campaign was initiated last year to breathe some life into the local economy over the winter months.
“We really need to do something that will make a difference to sales now, rather than wait,” says Chamber President Cameron McDonald of Carter Ferguson.
“There is so much threat to local businesses at the moment.
“It was bad enough with the fires and then the floods. Businesses were already closing down.
“Now people have taken on board the need for social distancing and businesses are suffering again.
“The Buy Local campaign is our way of encouraging people to help support local businesses, no matter what they need to buy.”
When customers spend $50 or more in one transaction with a business registered for the campaign (easily identified by a big red symbol), they are entered into a draw to win one of six prizes totaling $5,500.
“This is double the prize money for last year, and we’ve also brought in a system to make sure the prize money is recirculated within the Kiama economy,” says Mr McDonald.
The businesses which submit each of the two first prize winning transactions will also receive prizes.
Businesses do not have to be members of the Chamber to participate, and expenditure can cover a full range of services not just retail. Full details are available from http://www.kiamachamber.com.au
Melissa Judd of Toyworld was one of the first businesses to register.
“We’ve already had a steady stream of people coming in to buy board games, puzzles and craft to keep them occupied at home.
“We really appreciate their support, and want others to know that we’ve got your self-quarantine needs covered, no matter your age!”
While a drop off in customers is most easily noticeable in shops, there are not many businesses escaping the pinch.
“The Chamber is trying to come up with other ways to help them get through this crisis, but it is difficult when our board members have issues of their own to deal with,” says Mr McDonald.
The Chamber has met with Council to discuss the situation, and is now investigating ways to use technology to present a business support session, aimed at addressing mental health as well as financial issues.
It is also looking at other technology platforms that might help local businesses, for example with home delivery.
“We are also keen to see how we can use the expected downturn productively to help build a better Kiama in the long term.
“People might not normally have the time to be involved with this forward thinking.”
A suggestion by Liz Lewis and Mick Dignam of Milk & Honey, supported by the Chamber, for Council to waive its fees for outdoor dining chairs has been rejected as it is not thought to be appropriate to support one sector over another.
“The reality is all we would be doing is providing increased business options for cafes, and I suggest it is the retailers that are hurting more than the cafes,” says Council’s General Manager Kerry McMurray.
“We haven’t ruled it out, we will just keep looking at how the situation unfolds.
“We are working actively with the Chamber and will look at initiatives as they come to light.
“As you will appreciate, in the current environment it is relatively complicated.”