The fightback begins now! Shop local

At this difficult economic time, many businesses are closing, and many local jobs are under threat. What is our response to be? Will we sit, moaning about the recession, and accepting it as a fait accompli which is out of our control? Will we wait for someone else to do something? Will we satisfy ourselves by criticising the developers, bankers, government and various others who have brought us to this doom laden place? And when we've done that, and apportioned the blame, what then? Will we sink further into the morass, or will we look for a solution?

An Anthony J D'Angelo quote seems appropriate: “Focus 90 per cent of your time on solutions and only 10 per cent of your time on problems.”

The Irish economy will recover from its present difficulties, the question is when? Knowing this, the next question must be how can we make ' as soon as possible' the answer to this question. We all have an influence on this, and this must be our objective, to ensure we in Galway reach the end of this recession in the shortest timeframe possible. In writing this, I don't underestimate the enormous difficulties in which some find themselves, but there are still a lot of relatively wealthy people in this country and in this community.

We do have a role to play in extricating ourselves from the present situation.

The Galway Advertiser is calling on all those who live in this area to support your local businesses.

Whether it is in the villages of the county, or the larger towns, or the city itself, it is important that we all play our role in helping our local communities to survive and to prosper. We all have spending power, whether large or small, and it is our economic future, and that of our families, our friends, and our neighbours on whom our spending will impact directly on. So let us take the opportunity to support each other, to promote our communities and to spend locally, which will ultimately be to the benefit of us all.

The creation and maintenance of jobs in this region is dependent on our behaviour as shoppers and buyers.

People often say it is great to see jobs advertised in the newspapers. Our answer to them is, if you want to see more appointments in the papers, shop local. These are our jobs we are talking about, our parents’ jobs, our brothers’ and sisters’, our relations’, our friends’ jobs. Every time you go to Dublin to shop, you are taking jobs away from your area, or go to other parts of the country, or out of the country altogether. We must support our local businesses. People in the towns and villages of the county should support the businesses there. Its great to have the local shop open at 9pm on a Sunday, when you are stuck for a pint of milk, or something for the children's schools lunches, but if we only visit that shop at 9pm on a Sunday, it won’t be there for very long! If the local shop doesn't have what you are looking for, then come in to Galway city to do the Christmas shopping.

Let the fightback begin this Christmas. There are all sorts of ways to boost local business. Encourage your friends and relations to visit Galway, it is truly a beautiful place. Invite them to see the Christmas market. And if you're worried about being overrun, tell them to stay a night or two in a local hotel, there are many great offers available. Advise them to book a meal in a local restaurant, another area in which we are spoilt for choice. The more they stay in the hotels, and the more they 'eat out', the less stressful you will find their visit! Decide for a day this Christmas to become a tourist in your own city and county. There is so much to see and do, and Galway has so much to offer.

Throughout the city and county, there is a wonderful spirit and sense of community. We are so good at so many things to do with our local communities, with volunteerism, with helping each other. It is what we are comfortable with, what we grew up with and what we do best. We are just out of practice

It is time for our more traditional national characteristics to come to the fore once more, our spirit, our concern for each other,

Local spending creates and sustains local jobs. For this Christmas season, and beyond, lets do the business with our local businesses.

The Galway Advertiser campaign aims to get people to spend locally and therefore create jobs and preserve communities and last evening, it was backed by Mayor of Galway City councillor Michael Crowe who said that the need to take the shop local appeal has never been more necessary.

“The need for all of us Galway residents to buy locally has probably never been as important in the history of our city and county as this Christmas. Around this time every year, we hear the annual cries from the usual suspects, the Galway Chamber, the Galway City Business Association, the media etc, to do exactly that. We roll our eyes and think, here we go again and why should I buy local if I can save money by buying elsewhere. I understand that and I have been guilty of it in the past myself,” admitted Mayor Crowe.

“However, this year is different. The need to “look after our own” should be foremost in our mind. This year the local businesses face challenges and issues like never before. Now more than ever businesses are struggling to pay their everyday costs. Suppliers have tightened up credit terms, the banks are giving very little le-way, it is getting harder to pay rents, insurance, rates and other utilities. What we all need to remember is that the business owner gives people employment. And that is one of the most important facts in all of this. By that fact alone, money is coming back in to our local economy as the employees need to live and buy locally. Hence the money we spend locally is paid to these employees and continues to remain local.

“This Christmas, whether you live in Renmore or Oranmore, Claregalway or Oughterard or anywhere else in Galway, I am asking all of you to spend as much as you can in your local village and in Galway City. It is imperative that we all do this. We have seen in past years the lines of vehicles travelling to the North and doing the shopping there. But it’s my belief that the Republic has become much more competitive now and this, added to the United Kingdom’s increase in VAT and the current exchange rate no longer makes the North attractive. Plus the shops here in Galway and across the land have realised that they need to give value and this they are doing,” added Galway’s first citizen.

“As Mayor, I am a proud Galwegian. We have the best city in Ireland, not too big or too small. We need to look after this precious place. By shopping locally this year we are supporting the very people who have put their faith in Galway by setting up a business here. It is fundamental that we do all we can to repay that faith and help, not just the owners of these businesses, but also their employees. If we all do this we will make Galway a happier place this Christmas and we could do with a bit more happiness,” concluded Mayor Crowe.

The Galway Advertiser this year celebrated 40 years of business and 40 years of helping businesses prosper in this area. The prosperity of these businesses has trickled into our communities, making Galway a unique place to live and work in. We choose to live in our individual communities because of the way of life they offer us, be that aesthetic, geographic, or whatever. These communities have offered us a great deal and now that these communities are in danger of being decimated, it is up to each and every one of us to play our part in saving them.

Think about this: When you are looking for a summer job for your child, it is to the local shop you go; when you are fundraising for a new kit for the soccer club, you target the local businesses. It is the new businesses which are willing to support the local enterprises, so it is only fitting that we as consumers repay some of that loyalty by shopping locally and doing our business in the community around us.

How many years has it taken to create the communities we all live in? Think back to the seventies and eighties, when all there was was the corner shop. And the choice was ‘take it or leave it.’

If these businesses go to the wall now, then our entire communities start to unravel and it could be another generation or two before it gets back to where they were.

Of course, the success of shop local campaigns does not rest solely on the shoulders of consumers. It is incumbent on the businesses to look at themselves too and to ensure that customer service is better than it is, that staff are trained in the basics of good manners and don’t grunt an answer at you; that waiting staff don’t try their best to avoid eye contact; and that shop layouts are inviting and don’t look more like storerooms than places to browse and buy.

The economic trauma of the past few weeks is taking us back to basics, but let us try to hold on to as much of what we have so that recovery will be that much easier when it comes a year or two from now. This week and every week, help the process by supporting those businesses that form the heart of your community. Decide to carry out at least some of your weekly shopping in your own area and protect communities, jobs and character. Let the fightback begin in your local store. Shop local and trade local this Christmas. — Declan Varley

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