Green Friday: 10 reasons to buy local this Christmas

As Green Friday approaches, its co-founder and owner of Wild Designs, Bronwyn Connolly tells us about the campaign which encourages people to reconsider their purchases this Christmas and shop local, where possible
Green Friday: 10 reasons to buy local this Christmas
Meadhbh O’ Leary Fitzpatrick & Bronwyn Connolly of Wild Design Collective and the Green Friday campaign.

DURING Black Friday, the average Irish person buys four products and spends €300, with global data for 2018 showing an 1,852% increase in sales compared to an ordinary day.

We are hoping that people will consider spending some of this money on locally produced products and services — there is so much choice out there!

The Irish retail industry is primarily made up of small, family owned, indigenous companies and in supporting them, we are supporting our communities to stay strong, relevant and vibrant in amongst the many international retailers we have here in Ireland.

Last year was a huge success, and from humble beginnings Green Friday reached a national movement with over 170 businesses getting involved and reaching over 25,000 people on social media. This year we want to double that amount.

The support we have received and continue to receive has been fantastic. Black Friday puts serious pressure on small businesses to discount during the Christmas season, which may not be possible and is often not sustainable. Our aim is to get the word out to businesses that there are other ways to promote your wares and to engage customers. Last year, businesses came together to host craft and music nights in local stores. Other smaller retailers offered free gift wrapping or a free Christmas card on November 29 with any purchase. And the truth is people responded to this.

The Irish are great for championing their own. People know how much small, indigenous business means to the country, not only to our economy and our employment but also to our culture — we are renowned for producing beautifully hand-crafted goods. People believe in Irish.

The massive growth of Black Friday as a consumer phenomenon in recent years has led to pressure for smaller retailers to get on board and offer similar discounts as the large multi-nationals.

Bronwyn Connolly, of Wild Design Collective.
Bronwyn Connolly, of Wild Design Collective.

Artists and craftspeople spend years working on their skills and honing their craft and there’s very much a journey involved to following that interest and passion through the ups, downs and sacrifices involved in building a business from your creative abilities. It also take time to develop your product, and indeed your brand, and build that necessary brand loyalty within the local and wider community.

So it’s a difficult balance to strike to, on the one hand retain that authentic value in your work and in your business that so many people do want nowadays, but also compete pricewise with retailers that can offer hardcore discounts on products that they can make or purchase much cheaper.

So, Black Friday as a sales concept doesn’t really work for small business, particularly those involved in the artisan production or craft side of things. We need to show that we have something alternative to offer, that we value the time, energy, skill and dedication that goes into building a sustainable small business and find ways to take the pressure off of small businesses to compete in the same way.

The Green Friday team have given their top 10 reasons to show love for local:

  • When you buy local more money goes back into your local economy, strengthening the economic base of the community. According to ISME CEO Neil McDonnell, every €10 spent locally on Irish products generates more than €40 of benefit to the local community in terms of employment.
  • Supporting local helps reduce your carbon footprint, as your produce requires less transportation and packaging. This is particularly the case in terms of food, where shopping for produce grown or sourced locally significantly reduces the food miles involved. There is often less preservatives required too as produce is travels shorter distances and is fresher. All of these are significant factors in reducing carbon emissions and greenhouse gases and are significantly better for our own health too.
  • The total number of vehicles on the road in Ireland has increased year on year from 2.4 million in 2011 to 2.7million in 2018. Revaluating our consumer choices to shopping locally and shopping greener where possible, helps cut down on car journeys and fuel consumption and works towards lessening our overall environmental impact.
  • Local businesses give back more to the community. Non-profit organisations receive an average 250% more support from smaller business owners than they do from large businesses.
  • Shopping local keeps a community unique. Our one-of-a-kind businesses are an integral part of the distinctive character of our hometowns which leads to a stronger local identity and can help to attract more tourism.
  • When you buy locally you know exactly what you’re getting. Shopping locally lets you see and perhaps try items before you commit to purchasing them. When shopping online, returning an item to an Irish online retailer can be much cheaper and less of a headache than returning to overseas online retailers, and there’s also much less shipping and transport involved.
  • Local businesses create jobs. In fact small local businesses are the largest employers nationally and provide the most jobs to residents in our communities. According to 2014 CSO figures, 69% of Irish people are employed by SMEs.
  • Local businesses often provide better service as they hire people with a better understanding of the products they are selling and take more time to get to know their customers.
  • Supporting local puts your taxes to good use as they require comparatively little infrastructure investment and make more efficient use of public services as compared to nationally owned stores entering the community.
  • A multitude of small businesses, each selecting products based on the interest and needs of their local customers rather than on a national sales plan, guarantees a much broader range of product choices for your community.

WHAT CONSUMERS CAN DO

Buy local this Christmas season. Follow on social media and leave reviews. Take your local support for your favourite business from in-person to online. Follow and engage with their social accounts, leaving a like or a comment whenever you feel so inclined. This boosts their online visibility and brightens the day of the local businessperson at the other end of the screen. Share Green Friday Ireland posts and use the hashtags #GreenFriday and #GreenFridayIreland to let people know you are supporting local this Christmas season.

More in this section

Sponsored Content

Add Echolive.ie to your home screen - easy access to Cork news, views, sport and more