Forget the net, shop locally

Shop locally this Christmas: Tim Marriott from Marriotts and Mark Lafferty from SportFirst encourage people to support the businesses that support the community.

LOCAL businesses may start to disappear along with employment opportunities as Christmas shoppers turn to the internet.

With only a month left to buy gifts, Leongatha traders are asking people to support the businesses that support the community this year, rather than shopping online.

Business owners and operators believe if people stop supporting local businesses, they will not be the only ones to suffer, with staff members potentially losing jobs, and local clubs and charities also losing important sponsorship opportunities.

Mark Lafferty, who owns SportFirst stores in both Leongatha and Korumburra, said by helping local businesses, people are essentially helping themselves and the greater community.

“People come in and ask for sponsorship for particular clubs, so if the money’s coming through, it goes back into the local sporting clubs and if it doesn’t, it doesn’t,” he said.

“Rebel Sport may supply someone with a cricket bat, but it won’t give anything to the cricket club.”

Tim Marriott from Marriotts agrees with Mr Lafferty and said businesses in regional towns are “certainly important for peoples’ kids’ jobs and their own jobs” as well as the future of the whole region.

“If money is going out of the town and out of the country, it’s not helping anyone at all; you don’t get the flow and effect of the sale either,” he said.

“Essentially it’s not doing anyone any good. It isn’t a lot cheaper when you consider the freight, and you can’t take it back easily and can’t test it before you buy it. You can’t get after sale service on anything you buy either.”

When asked what will happen to Leongatha businesses if people continue to shop online and send their money overseas, he responded: “I guess they’re going to disappear”.

“The services are going to go and people won’t be able to afford to exist to stock spare parts and service the individuals,” he said.

“Essentially the service network will break down and the whole local community breaks down also. Who sponsors all the local sporting clubs? You don’t see too many ‘dot com’ companies sponsoring them.”

Leading Edge Computers manager Wayne Sanders said a lot of people don’t support local retailers.

“Our philosophy is basically, we’re a local business, we employ locals, support local charities and we support locals by providing part time work for their students, plus work experience,” he said.

Having been told by their accountant that for every dollar spent at the door, it goes around the community eight times, Mr Sanders asked why people wouldn’t support businesses in their own town.

He also argued customers are getting better service when they shop locally, compared to online.

“We’re here to provide a full service instead of just a box delivery,” he said.

“We’re not hiding anything; yes, you can buy a similar product cheaper online, but it’s the additional service that you get here. We give warranty support with anything we sell; if you buy online, you might buy from someone in China and if you have a warranty problem, it’s difficult to go back to them.”

Like Mr Marriott, Mr Sanders believes if people continue to shop online, the retail opportunities in Leongatha will decline.

“It’s an issue in all regional towns, not just Leongatha. If people don’t support the local retailers, within five years, towns will have minimal retail presence,” he said.

“Look at the town; we’ve already lost two music stores in the last 12 months because of people buying online. We all look online, but people have got to realise cheap isn’t always the best.”

Mr Lafferty also believes face-to-face service beats the internet any day, and said while people may believe they’re getting a bargain online, often freight costs mean they can pay even more for their purchases.

“Some people sometimes get trapped with the price when it doesn’t include a freight charge, and that goes on top of any purchase generally,” he said.

“People get caught out when they try to get it cheaper, because for example, bigger items like a trampoline can cost up to $150 in freight, and you wouldn’t pay that in a shop.”

Short URL: http://thestar.com.au/?p=5655

Posted by on Nov 27 2012. Filed under Featured, News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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