Forget the Big Smoke our communitites are more important

In this week’s Advertiser we include a Shop Local feature. This feature is something we feel strongly about, after all we are a local newspaper, and as such endeavour to support the local communities in our catchment area.

This time last year you would probably have laughed at me when I suggested you stay loyal to your town or village and try to support local businesses instead of taking a trip up to the Big Smoke. But let’s face up to facts here; a hell of a lot has changed since this time last year.

Now more than ever we need to support each other, keep jobs alive, and keep our communities thriving.

Westmeath’s major towns, Athlone and Mullingar, are no longer small and restrictive when it comes to shopping. In fact they have grown into towns on a par with any other shopping destination, with unique boutiques as well as popular high street stores, and supermarket chains, meaning there’s no need to belt up the N4 or N6 to get the essentials.

We have access to a vast array of shops across the county to fulfil all our needs. And with only 60 odd days until Christmas, it’s time we faced up to reality and made our mark supporting local businesses.

Shopping locally has come a long way. No more is it simply about businessmen with a monopoly in the town offering over-priced goods. Local businesses now are competing with chain stores to offer value and quality, along with the added bonus of not spending €40 on petrol, and God knows what on parking for the day out.

It’s all about compromise. Local businesses realise that they need to price their products competitively and in return we need to show our support. We all know someone who works in a shop in our town, or who owns a business. Do we really want to play a part in their business being run into the ground? And is a trip to one of the major cities really worth it when you add in fuel and parking costs?

The Chambers are working hard to encourage support for local businesses with their voucher schemes. This is a simple and effective way for shoppers to promote and support their local retailers, and can make a great present, not just for Christmas, but all year round.

It’s a simple decision to make. Do you want to help your local community stay strong, or would you rather sacrifice that for an expensive day out?

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