A few days ago, I was driving down a local street that I’d travelled down a thousand times before. On my left I was nearing a set of shops on the corner of the roundabout. The group of shops consisted of a little Pizzeria which embarrassed the big-chain duopolies by producing real pizzas; a Japanese restaurant serving authentic Japanese food; an ice-cream shop; a bottle-o; and of course, the obligatory 7-11.
I have three boys so the incessant desire and ceaseless nagging for the all-powerful and addictive slushies saw us frequent the 7-11 probably once per week. However, the remaining shops in the precinct we’d only visited once or twice a year. I’m not sure of the reason why the Haley’s comet-like appearances. They were certainly local and provided excellent service on the times we did visit. I think it possibly comes down to the myriad of options we have in our local area. Where we live we’re certainly spoilt for choice.
Anyway, as I neared the group of shops, something caught my eye. The landscape was different. Changed. I slowed down to take a closer look, where normally I’d drive right by. On the corner out front of the shops was one of those big LED promotional signs. Roughly 5 x 6 metres. It had a message which scrolled through on a loop:
Message 1: We are open now
Message 2: Takeaway Japanese cuisine
Message 3: Delicious ice-cream
Message 4: Bottle-shop
Message 5: Authentic Pizza
Message 6: Slushies!
Message 7: PLEASE SUPPORT OUR LOCAL BUSINESSES
Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.
Here was a brilliant display of local businesses working together to help each other through a horrendous period which is seeing thousands of local businesses close weekly. They’d come together with a simple but effective way to promote their businesses and let everyone in our area know that they were open for business and ready to serve us. At a time when so many businesses have shut their doors, it is very easy to just drive past local businesses and almost unconsciously conclude that they were also closed.
Yet this group of small business owners had come together, pooled some precious cash, and hired an LED advertising board. They needed to let our community know that they were still trading and needed our support in a dark period for Australian businesses. Small Business doesn’t have the cash reserves of Big Business. Small Business doesn’t have the flexible terms of trade that Big Business is able to negotiate. Small Business doesn’t have the extensive marketing budgets of Big Business.
It made me proud to see the lengths these small businesses had gone to try and see them through to the other side of this mess. They were stubborn. They were resilient. They were fighting.
I returned later that afternoon. That evening my family had Sushi and Pizza for dinner. Strange combo but it worked. My wife and I washed it down with a bottle of red, and the kids made short shrift of a tub of tub of Hokey Pokey ice-cream.
We enjoyed this meal immensely, though the real pleasure came from supporting our local businesses. If you can afford it, pick one or two local businesses right now, and show them that you know they’re open and will support them where possible until we all reach the other side.