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SO WE’RE at Alert Level 3. For anyone who’s rushed out to get their first coffee fix for more than a month, or to get the paint they ran out of during lockdown, this is clearly not back to normal.

For retailers and other businesses, this is a time of huge uncertainty. Will the initial rush of people buying after lockdown continue, and will the revenue be enough to give them confidence in the future?

What is clear is that local support is going to be critical for the health of our business community. Never before has the catch-cry of “Buy Local” been more important for rebuilding the Ōtaki economy.

At Alert Level 3 we have to stay in our district – unless an essential service or worker. That keeps us here anyway.

The rapid demise of tourism has cut visitor numbers drastically. The lines of camper vans at cafes will be something for the future, although there is promise in the possible formation of a trans-Tasman tourism bubble with Australia.

While there’s still temptation for us to order cheap items online, our local businesses are offering goods and services that will help them continue to serve Ōtaki.

Why is this so important?

Businesses help the town thrive. Where business thrives, the town thrives. Where businesses struggle, the town struggles. One only has to look at some rural areas of New Zealand where ghost towns indicate a lack of

business activity. Buying locally keeps the wealth in our neighbourhood, rather than with rapacious multi-nationals.

Studies have shown that every dollar spent within the community generates twice as much for the local economy. It’s the spending money-go-round.

Think of the local cafe. A good proportion of its fresh produce comes from local suppliers. Money it earns gets spent within the community.

Money spent on locally manufactured goods largely flows locally, such as for parts and supplies, employment, utilities and so on.

We can take pride in buying locally. Supporting the local hardware store or retailer contributes to their success – so important in the current economic climate. Customer service is personal, and we get to see the same familiar faces each time we visit.

Businesses employ local people. Where do you work? If it’s at a local business, it means that business is putting food on your table and helping to support your family. If it thrives, it might also provide jobs for your whānau and friends so they don’t have to travel to work out of town.

They provide products and services so we don’t have to travel to buy them. That means a time saving, a saving on petrol and vehicle running costs, and fewer carbon emissions.

Businesses support local initiatives, community organisations, sports groups and individuals. Many organisations would not survive without the support of these businesses. Some provide funding that’s critical for the community’s health and well-being.

Where would the surf club, the rugby and league clubs, the foodbank, the Ōtaki Promotions Group, or any number of other organisations be without the financial and other assistance of local businesses? And where do we go when we have a raffle for a promising young tennis player or actor who needs to go overseas to see how far they can take their dreams?

A post frequently seen on social media sums

up the situation well. It’s along the lines of “Remember the businesses you asked to support your local sports club or community organisation – now’s the time to repay the favour”.

Food grown and sold locally is fresh and healthy. It’s also most likely to be bought in loose lots without plastic wrapping. Paper bags win the day!

Goods made locally encourage craftsmanship and innovation. It’s the old – but true – concept that New Zealanders are great innovators because of our isolation.

We have the opportunity to create a new, stronger local economy. We will win by doing

things differently, relying on our own independence and self-reliance.

It’s an opportunity that the current adveristy has offered us.

We shouldn’t pass it up.

Ian Carson is editor of Ōtaki Today.

Now’s the time to support our local businesses



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