East Gippsland Marketing, in conjunction with local business owners, are calling on the local community to shop locally and buy local produce as the impacts of the coronavirus and the recent bushfires continue to be felt throughout the region.
Having already been severely impacted by the bushfires that ravaged some parts of the region over the peak summer holiday period, local traders, tourism operators and producers who were relying on visitors to return to the region to boost the local economy now expect the coronavirus will continue to keep visitors away.
As a result, they are calling on locals to shop local, and buy local produce to help keep money in their local towns.
Hayley Hardy, from East Gippsland Marketing, says with more and more people staying close to their own homes and local towns, as the impacts of the coronavirus are felt, they should also think about supporting their local traders and producers who will be further impacted by a lack of tourists over the upcoming school holiday and Easter periods.
“Now more than ever, we are encouraging locals not just to shop locally, but to buy products that are grown or produced right here in East Gippsland,” Ms Hardy said.
“We have a long list of local producers, from bakers and chocolate makers to honey producers, winemakers and free-range egg producers, who are making great products right here in our region.
“By shopping with them, you can ensure that your money stays in the town, keeping locals employed and helping to boost the local economy in the wake of the recent bushfires and now the coronavirus pandemic,” she said.
Bianca Ward, from Nicholson River Soaps in Bairnsdale, which makes goat, buffalo and camel milk soaps, popular with people with conditions such as eczema and dermatitis, said the local community can make a real difference to their local economy simply by thinking about who is making the products they need.
“As we know, a lot of people are still hurting from the bushfires and we were all pinning our hopes on a tourism-led recovery,” Bianca said.
“Now with the coronavirus pandemic we are all grappling with, we are really asking the local community to continue to support each other, simply by asking themselves, ‘Ok what do I need, and can I get this from a local producer or trader?’.”
“If everyone starts asking themselves this question before they buy, I think we will start seeing a real uptick in the local economy.”
Deb Hahnemann, from Forge Creek Free Range, a family-run farm based in East Gippsland, said every cent locals spend with an East Gippsland business or producer will go towards helping to keep locals in work.
“You’re putting it back into the pockets of local business owners who can then continue to keep paying their staff and keep their doors open,” Deb said.
In fact, Forge Creek Free Range is doing more than that. Following the devastating bushfires, the Hahnemanns pledged to start giving 20 cents from the sale of every dozen eggs sold to a local community group.
“At the end of each month we will tally the sales and contribute to the hard work of a local community group so they can continue to help rebuild our region,” she said.
Cathy Lucke, from David Lucke’s Fresh Food Market, which sells a vast selection of quality meat products, fresh seafood and fruit and vegetables, said shopping with local businesses can also offer a more convenient shopping option in the current environment.
“We have all seen the shocking scenes in some of our larger supermarkets and retailers over recent weeks. We are working around the clock to ensure we not only have a good supply of the best quality fresh produce available to our local customers but the warm and welcoming atmosphere we have become known for at Lucke’s over the past 30 years continues,” she said.
IMAGE: Bianca Ward (left), of Nicholson River Soaps, who is selling soaps online, and Cathy Lucke (right), from David Lucke’s Fresh Food Market, which is trading as essential service, with East Gippsland Marketing Marketing manager, Hayley Hardy (centre,) are urging locals to shop local during the coronavirus pandemic. (PS)