This is proving to be a good year for many Galway businesses. As one looks at the tourists wandering through the streets of Galway city, and the buzz in Shop Street and around the city centre, it would be easy to feel that all is well, and every business is benefiting from the increased numbers of visitors and the general feel good factor. This sense of a thriving city is particularly evident at this time of year, as the Galway Film Fleadh leads in to the Galway International Arts Festival, which in turn is followed by Galway Race Week. These festivals, and the many others which take place throughout the year, make a significant contribution to business activity in both the city and the county. We welcome the success of these businesses, which is fully deserved, primarily through the hard work, dedication, and level of customer service they provide.
There is, however, another dimension to Galway business life which tells a different story. This story is one which can be told in parts of the city, as well as in many parts of the county. It is a story of geographic areas, and business sectors, where the recovery has failed to take hold and businesses continue to struggle. In many ways, the owners and those employed in these businesses are the unsung heroes and heroines of Galway’s business community. Setting up a business takes great courage, and we owe a debt of gratitude to those who take the risk. At the Galway Advertiser, we meet many people who have taken the plunge into this uncertain business world, and we greatly admire their courage, their energy, and their optimism as they set out on their venture. Thankfully, many succeed, but unfortunately, others do not.
Having overcome the many obstacles to getting a business started, they now depend on us, their customers. And what do we do? Do we press the ‘buy’ button online, or travel to Dublin or north of the border, before we see if we can purchase the product or service in Galway. Before deciding to purchase, please ask yourself, is the product or service I need available in Galway city, or in any of the county towns? From Clifden to Ballinasloe, from Headford to Gort, and all towns in between, there are local communities that need your support, by supporting your local businesses. Don’t just see the slogan of ‘Support Local Business’, see the local businessman or woman behind it.
They are the first people you call to when you are looking for part-time work for your son or daughter. The transition year students, where do they look for their work experience? Your local clubs and organisations, from sports clubs to charities to other worthy causes, who will they first call on for any fundraiser? Of course, the local business. Is it the same one you drive by on your way to do your shopping, or where you go to try something on before buying it online? That nice pub and restaurant down the road, the one where you bring your visitors who call during the summer holidays, and you also pop down for a Christmas drink. Some Christmas soon it may not be there: if you think calling in three times a year is going to keep them in business, you are probably mistaken. The local hairdresser, the shoe shop, the mini market, the hardware store, the beautician, the furniture shop — they may all be part of your local community, whether in Galway city or county. Do your best to keep them there. There is no point in complaining about the closure of the post office, the bank, or the Garda station if we are speeding up the decline of our local communities by our own neglect or thoughtlessness.
Play your part in keeping jobs in your area, and protecting and maintaining the community you live in. The local businessmen or women who you see first thing each morning are often still working at the weekend when most of us are enjoying our time off. They are a vital part of our communities, they deserve our support.