As part of the national Scotland Loves Local campaign, local firms across Scotland are highlighting the powerful impact that thinking local first can have

 

JILL Conlan is in no doubt about the difference people can make to their own communities by supporting local businesses.

She has run her shop, Newfangled Design, where she sells her own range of glassware and jewellery as well as other Fairtrade products, at the foot of Alloa’s High Street for six years.

And, when customers support her, the independent businesswoman is keen to point out that it’s not just her who benefits.

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“If people shop local, the money stays local,” Jill said. “Every pound that’s spent in a small local shop will go towards something else that’s local. 

“For instance, the money people spend here I use to go to the Ladybird Tearoom. Alison there will go to Anna’s Larder and buy Vilma’s strawberries.

Vilma uses local produce. It pays for my kids’ judo lessons, haircuts, meeting friends for coffee. It’s a cross-pollination. If you don’t support one business, it’s devastating for others.”

Jill is among the business owners across the country supporting the Scotland Loves Local campaign, which urges everyone to think local first whenever they can for all of their needs.

“Shopping locally is really important,” she added. “It isn’t just about goods and services. It’s about points of contact. It’s about friendship. We all cross-pollinate and support each other.”

One of the key messages of the Scotland Loves Local campaign is that every pound spent by people supporting shops and services based in their own community - whether in-store or digitally - stays local for longer, giving the people who work in them the means to support other local businesses.

It’s a fact gaining growing recognition and of increasing importance as people live more of their lives locally through the Covid-19 pandemic, making the already critical role of local businesses even more vital.

The point is one that Lee-Anne Gillie, sales director of Melrose-based ERIBÉ Knitwear, entirely agrees with.

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She said: “It’s extremely important for people to shop local - not just in the pandemic but generally. 

“When you shop local you’re supporting local jobs, local businesses. Every penny that’s spent is really a penny in someone local’s pocket.”

Elsewhere in Melrose, Hamish Henderson has run Henderson’s Garden & Home Store, on the High Street, for 10 years.

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He said: “It’s essential for people to shop local. Shopping locally is the way to go to keep the strength in the town.”

The Scotland Loves Local campaign, spearheaded by Scotland’s Towns Partnership (STP) with the support of the Scottish Government, aims to support the country’s response and recovery to the ongoing challenges of coronavirus from its grassroots and within all public health guidelines.

By supporting local businesses through the pandemic, STP believes that people will not just ensure the immediate survival of the businesses around them, but lay even firmer foundations for stronger, more sustainable, town centres for the future.

And the signs are positive that, with increasing numbers of people working from home and staying closer to home to help stop the spread of Covid-19, people have a greater appreciation of the businesses in their community.

That’s a point noticed by Gourock businessman Andrew Bowman, the junior vice-president of Inverclyde Chamber of Commerce whose business interests include the property firm Bowman Rebecchi.

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He said: “At the start of lockdown, the circumstances meant people started using local shops more. They found that the quality and service was better.

“We’re all hoping that this continues, that people realise the benefits of spending locally and keeping their money in the local economy. There’s cautious optimism about what this means for the future. People who normally work out of town but are now home working are using local shops and services during their breaks, for example.”

Recent polling commissioned by STP for Scotland Loves Local found that 56 per cent of people will always shop on their local high street rather than going further afield, whenever they can do so. Almost nine in 10 agreed it’s vital that people support businesses on their high streets.

Phil Prentice, STP’s chief officer, says the impact of thinking local first - from shopping to meals with friends, when safe to do so - is positive for everyone.

“Every pound spent locally is re-spent six times in the area’s economy, so the knock-on effect is significant,” he added. “Thinking local first protects jobs, is better for the environment and helps make our communities better places to live.”