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Shop local initiative celebrates its anniversary

The Spend With Us – Buy From a Bush Business Marketplace is celebrating its first anniversary of helping Australians buy from bush businesses without going through numerous websites, scrolling through social media pages, or travelling hundreds of kilometres.

Founded in the midst of the bushfire crisis, Spend With Us is now helping 800 rural and regional Australian businesses in their survival not only from the bushfires but with the COVID-19 pandemic that first hit about a month after the initiative was launched.

Spend With Us was founded by Sarah Britz, a web designer from NSW and designer of the site; Lauren Hateley, a clinical psychologist from Victoria; and Jenn Donovan, a marketer from NSW who had earlier launched a “Buy from a Bush Business” campaign on Facebook. Donovan merged with Britz and Hately in August 2020 to increase the impact of their initiatives on the rural and regional small-business community.

The online marketplace has had a successful 12 months, recording achievements such as:

  • Onboarding 800+ rural and regional small businesses to the platform.
  • Generating a quarter of a million dollars in sales income through the website marketplace for small businesses.
  • Gaining 1,886,955 website page views since August 2020.
  • Seeing over 303,000 members join the Buy From a Bush Business Facebook group.

“Reflecting on the year that was, the trio said no one could have been prepared for the impact the pandemic would have as 2020 rolled on,” Donovan said. “Whilst the pandemic has highlighted Australia’s reliance on imported goods, it amplified our willingness to support local economies and other Australians doing it tough.”

Britz pointed out that many small-town retailers don’t have e-commerce sites or digital strategies, so creating a way for them to be online without all the hassle has proved invaluable in preserving the income of many small businesses as they were forced to close their doors to customers due to COVID.

“The shop local and shop small movements have gained momentum during the pandemic and the Australian spirit of helping each other remains as strong as ever,” Britz said.

The founders have plans to expand the platform both online and offline to help support small rural businesses even more in 2021.

“We are a marketplace and have built this online platform to support as many as we can, but we’d also like to support rural areas with some off-line support too,” Donovan said.

“We are also very aware that those affected by bushfires 12 months ago, are still struggling to get on their feet. We do have a free bushfire 12-month membership to our platform, but we are always looking at other ways to support them even more in the coming 12 months,” Donovan added.

Britz stressed that the team welcome feedback from local government, their members and the general public on innovative ways she and the team can help local communities deal with lack of tourism and foot traffic or slower sales.

Published by Inside Small Business January 31 2021

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