Get be­hind your small shops

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - Rod Kil­ner

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.

Pic­ture: ROD KIL­NER

SHOP SMALL: Sandy Wil­liams and Mark Bowker of Lead­ing Edge Tech­nol­ogy

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