2021 has been challenging for all of Melbournes’s independent retailers, and they need your support. As simple a decision as eating at or getting takeaway from a local restaurant or café, choosing to shop a local independent retailer, and even almost effortless gestures such as leaving positive reviews or liking their social media pages can make a significant difference.
Small independent businesses contribute up to a third of our local economic activity, keep millions of Australians in jobs and are responsible for paying wages to more than half of our workforce. They are vital to our everyday lives, especially now in our economic recovery.
Putting the “shop local” social conscience diatribe aside while adopting or renewing our habit of shopping at our local clothing and homeware stores, bottle shops, markets, and restaurants will yield many personal, almost selfish rewards.
Personal human service
We are greeted by owners and employees who genuinely appreciate our business in the independent retail environment. This appreciation will glow with service levels we don’t see with national chains and box stores. We all have shared a unique, renewed community experience that has not occurred in at least seventy-five years. By all accounts, we will likely find ourselves sharing anecdotes about recent incidents in confinement and how they affected our family and friends. There will be joking, many opinions shared, but most of all, we will share the human connection experience we have been yearning for the past 24 months. These experiences and associated emotions will be attached to the products and services we buy and add new value.
Independent retailers are in the enviable position to carry a much more unique range of products. We find goods not available in large shopping centers or big box stores. Even if brands stocked overlaps with national chains and outlet stores, independent retailers work harder to go deep into a brand’s range and carry the more unique or more challenging products to find. This element of uniqueness is what will make their products more valuable. In Melbourne, you can find Australian designed overalls for women on Coventry Street. At the same time, printed shirts on Chapel Street or a unique pair of jeans not available anywhere else in Australia on Clarendon Street are fine examples of items you won’t find in shopping centres.
Basque in the process
As you walk from store to store, you will pass old friends and acquaintances you haven’t seen for many months. You will observe a wave of familiar faces from the past that we’ve never even met before. You might stop for a chat or go for a coffee to catch up at a safe distance. At the very least, you’ll find ourselves saying g’day. We have all gone through the same experiences in the past 24 months and quite literally have something in common with everyone else on the street. This reconnection with our neighbours and our community will go a long way towards making the community spirit more infectious than any virus.
Compare this image with the thought of driving half an hour, battling for a spot in an overcrowded parking lot and then jostling for a position with thousands of strangers in a shopping mall environment. Health risks aside, I’m sure we can all agree which option is more enjoyable.
As we now start to move around freely in the summer season, we have the opportunity, through our choices, to strengthen our local communities, improve our local economy. I’m assured that no matter what, the shopping malls, big-box and outlet stores will always be there. The smaller independent retailers rely on us for their survival.
Melbourne Lifestyles Magazine offers free business profiles to independent businesses within your community. If you know of a business that would benefit from the increased exposure to a local audience, send them here to post their profile, and we’ll promote them daily through our social media channels.