Get behind your small shops
LOCAL traders are hoping a national campaign this month will resonate with their communities.
Launched last week the Shop Small in November Campaign recognises that despite a strong belief in the importance of small business to the economic health of local communities, many local shop-owners continue to be overlooked when it comes to buying goods and services.
American Express launched similar campaigns in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom that were credited with stimulating consumer spending with small retailers.
A recent study revealed that 94 per cent of Australians recognised the importance of small business, but forgot to support local business, and 54 per cent of small businesses were finding it hard to compete with major retailers.
Retailers in Douglas were largely unaware of the campaign’s launch, but were of the view that any help they can get would be beneficial.
You only have to drive down Mossman’s main street to see the number of shops that are vacant, or stroll around Port Douglas to see the ‘‘For Lease’’ signs to realise that times are tough for small retailers.
Mossman’s Leading Edge Technology owners Mark Bowker and Sandy Williams agree with the survey’s findings that many small retailers are struggling, and without local support businesses will continue to disappear.
‘‘What many locals don’t realise is that our business and other local shops is that we offer only quality products, have the expertise to advise customers, and are price competitive,’’ Mr Bowker said.
‘‘By the time you factor in petrol and wear and tear on your vehicle, it makes sense to shop locally.’’
Local goldsmith Peter Buchanan has been in his store just up the street from Leading Edge Technology for around nine months.
Mr Buchanan is grateful for what he says is the community support he’s receiving.
‘‘Perhaps the fact the Mossman area hasn’t had a qualified goldsmith for 20 years has helped me,’’ he said.
‘‘If locals do their research they’ll find that my prices are cheaper than they’ll buy the same item for in major retailers in Cairns.
‘‘Quality, price and good service is the basis of my business, and importantly encourages repeat custom.’’
It’s also vital for the small retailers in the food sector to have the support of the community.
Mossman’s Sugarland Meats owner Justin Edwards said a quality product and the right pricing were crucial for them to survive against the big supermarkets.
‘‘The fact that we’ve been hidden down the Sugarlands Arcade probably has not helped, with even seasoned locals not realising we’re tucked away down there,’’ Mr Edwards said.
‘‘That’s why I’ve decided to build my own shop, on the block next to where the old Royal Hotel was, to increase visibility and attract passing trade.’’
The small business sector in Port Douglas is operating from a slightly different base, with tourists providing for many businesses particularly along Macrossan St, the bulk of their clientele.
However, local support is considered important and few want to rely solely on the visitor market.
Long-running retailer Josephine’s has established its presence in both segments of the market.
Quality stock, competitive prices, and an emphasis on customer relations has ensured the shop received repeat business.
Shed 6’s Jim Bardsley said his shop was frequented largely by tourists, accounting for 80 to 90 percent of his turnover.
‘‘Our prices are the same as you’ll find in the major retailers in Cairns, but what hits us as far as the local market is while we have twice a year sales, the major retailers have more regular sales events,’’ Mr Bardsley said. ‘‘I think buying over the internet is becoming an increasing pattern among local residents, and that is also affecting small business.’’
For more information about the campaign go to www.shopsmallaustralia.com.
SHOP SMALL: Sandy Williams and Mark Bowker of Leading Edge Technology