ACCESS Credit Union in West Cork is driving support for local businesses with the launch of a discount card to encourage more people to spend local in the run up to Christmas and in to the future.
Businesses will also offer personalised virtual shopping via WhatsApp and Zoom for customers in a bid to beat lockdown.
Since March of this year local businesses have borne the brunt of the pandemic with closures and uncertainty.
Now, with Christmas looming and new stock arriving by the day, locals are being encouraged stay local and secure the future of their towns.
The “Love Local” initiative in conjunction with Skibbereen Chamber of Commerce, and Schull and Bandon Business Associations will see dozens of businesses offer exclusive discounts and daily deals to the more than 28,000 Access Credit members.
While many local businesses do not have a shop online option, customers can pick up the phone to arrange a virtual shopping experience with the store owners who will help them pick out gifts in real time.
Speaking of the initiative, Elma Casey, CEO Access Credit Union said: “We have proudly supported local businesses for more than 50 years. We have seen our members through the best and worst of times, but working together as a community has always gotten us through and we are adamant that we can also weather this storm too with the support of our local people.
“Since March we have been trying new ways to promote local businesses and groups with a series of videos and supports as a way to help raise people’s spirits and help keep people connected to their communities.
“The mission of our Credit Union is to be there for our members as a dependable and community centric business.
“However, we are all too aware that our Credit Union and other businesses around us may not be here in the future if we don’t support each other now. Our high streets will look very different without all the beautiful independent family owned stores that make us unique.
“We are faced with serious choices; do business locally or take it online to support a stranger who will do nothing for our local community. Our shops are the lifeblood of our town and without them the future is bleak so please think local and shop local.”
Also speaking of the campaign, Sandra Gallagher, chairperson, Skibbereen Chamber of Commerce said: “The Love Local campaign is our way of fighting back. We all know that to keep local shops open we need to support them. Times have changed and are changing by the day so we all need to shop more consciously.
“Offering virtual shopping for our customers can give us the edge over the chain stores by allowing us to connect personally with them and help them find what they are looking for be it for themselves or as a gift. It’s a new concept but one which we feel can and will work.
“The people of Skibbereen have weathered many storms by looking out for each other. Our wish now is that we can remain in business for many years to come. Local people can make our wish come true.”