Castlebar marketing drive needs big brand support

There has been much discussion and debate in recent weeks on the national airwaves about shopping local and the dash for the border by shoppers in the Republic. Minister Mary Coughlan has called on the public to spend their cash at home in a bid to save our own economy but other commentators feel she has no right to make such appeals when it is the Government’s fault there are such glaring anomalies between the prices of groceries North and South.

Retailers in the Republic are facing into what will most likely be another difficult festive shopping period when the differences in VAT rates between themselves and their northern counterparts mean they are powerless to compete.

But the question has to be asked, should we as consumers ignore the pleas of our local shop owners and make the regular trek up North where there is undoubtedly better value to be had?

It’s a moral dilemma but one which is becoming increasingly more difficult to put forward given the rising level of unemployment and the daily struggles families, one-parent families, and older people have to overcome.

What’s definite is that our friends, neighbours, and acquaintances who have supplied us year in and year out with food, clothes, shoes, drinks, cosmetics, etc, in our local towns are struggling and it’s up to every person individually to decide whether he/she feels a moral obligation to support them, especially in the run up to Christmas.

What is certain is that Castlebar Chamber of Commerce has been proactive in marketing the town as a shopping destination. Following a year-long research project, Castlebar - Everyone’s Invited was launched. The committee realised that Castlebar’s strengths lie in its range of shops along with the top quality shows and events available in the town. From the TF Royal Theatre, the Museum of Country Life, and the Linenhall Arts Centre to the superb offering of clothes, electrical, shoe, and homeware stores, Castlebar has everything for a weekend away.

While the chamber has the support of the local, homegrown, retailers and business people of the town for this ambitious project, they need the multiples who are trading very successfully in the town to come on board. It is these larger stores who undoubtedly offer excellent employment opportunities in Mayo’s county town, but whose profits don’t necessarily stay in the town. While Castlebar has benefited from their presence here, times are not what they used to be, and unless they sign up to the Destination Castlebar marketing drive, everyone will see bleaker times.

Right now it’s hard to imagine that our spending patterns will ever return to the levels we had become used to. But hopefully as confidence in the economy returns, spending will increase. Castlebar Chamber is being innovative in identifying the town as a shopping gem, nestled in the heart of the west of Ireland, ‘Stay, Shop and Show’, a catchphrase used by the TF Royal Theatre marketing team, will become synonymous with Castlebar.

The problem is people might ‘stay’ and ‘show’ all right but the shopping part will suffer if the whole retail community does not back this campaign. It’s important for the multiples to get involved because all participants will get exposure on the Castlebar - Everyone’s Invited website which will be launched in the coming months and which should be the first point of reference for anyone considering a trip west.

In a way the Castlebar Chamber is not just asking the locals to shop local, it is inviting people from across Ireland and the world to come to Castlebar by highlighting the town’s unique selling points. There are benefits for all of Mayo in this and other towns could leverage off it. This kind of effort should be rewarded and there is an onus on all retailers, profiting from the town’s growing reputation, to support this project.

Toni Bourke Editor [email protected]


Page generated in 0.0971 seconds.