Eimear Hutchinson: How to support our local economy during these times

In her weekly column in WoW! Eimear Hutchinson explores ways in which we can support local business during the Covid-19 pandemic
Eimear Hutchinson: How to support our local economy during these times

"Shopping local means that when we re-emerge from this period of lockdown, we want our local villages, towns and cities to feel vibrant once again..." says Eimear Hutchinson.

WE are all being affected by what’s happening all around us and there is no doubt most of us are being more cautious about where we spend our money. We don’t know what the future looks like right now but what we do have the power to do is to support each other.

Shopping local means that when we re-emerge from this period of lockdown, we want our local villages, towns and cities to feel vibrant once again, we want shop fronts alive and not boarded up, we want the stalls at farmers markets full and bustling, and we want our family, friends and neighbours to have jobs to get up and go to.

The vast majority of our shopping nowadays is done in large supermarkets and they all stock a significant number of Irish products. When presented with a choice, try and choose the Irish product. Behind every block of Irish cheese or every Irish grown potato is a family that you are supporting.

If you wanted to keep it a little more local, think about taking a visit to your local butchers and greengrocers to pick up locally produced meat and locally grown veg.

You might find a new cut of meat that becomes a firm favourite long into the future or you might stumble across some locally produced vegetables that taste incredible.

You will also often find locally produced products like honey, jams and sauces in these shops too which is another nice way to support local. Local and small food producers have been badly affected by the loss of trade to restaurants and the closure of farmers markets.

WoW! columnist Eimear Hutchinson. Picture Dan Linehan
WoW! columnist Eimear Hutchinson. Picture Dan Linehan

Neightbourfood.ie is an online market place that stocks lots of small Irish food and beverage producers. You shop online and collect at a designated time at a location close to you, there are a lot of Cork based pick up points but it’s a nationwide initiative. Some local producers are selling direct to the public via their own websites or social media accounts so if you love a product that you would normally pick up in your farmers market have a Google and see if you can find out whether they are selling online or perhaps over the phone.

For those of you (us!) that enjoy a tipple, there are so many Irish beverage companies worth supporting. From small distillers brewing award winning gins to local brewers creating the tastiest beers, there is so much choice out there and with no sign of the pubs opening in the very near future now is a time when they need our support too.

If alcohol isn’t your vice, coffee has seen a surge in online sales with many of us missing our daily grind. There are subscription services where you can get new coffee beans sent to you each month or if you like a particular brand that you get in your local coffee shop or service station, like Fermoy based Badger and Dodo, again give it a google and you will find many of them selling their products online.

Not every clothes shop in has a website in this country but many have the capability to sell through social media apps like Facebook, Instagram and Bezzu. Perhaps, for many the thought of buying new clothes might seem pointless given the fact most of us have probably worn the same pairs of leggings or sweatpants on rotation since the middle of March!

However, that wedding or communion or christening or night out that was supposed to happen during this period will still happen. A great phrase in our house lately is ‘it’s not cancelled, its just been postponed’ and often you’ll find the perfect dress when you’re not actually looking for it.

So look for it now, give yourself the chance to have something exciting to look forward to in the hopefully not too distant future.

We are all beginning to look in the mirror lately and lament the closure of hairdressers, beauty and nail salons! A nice way of showing support during this period of closure is to see if there is the option of buying a voucher from your favourite salon. This is a great way to inject cash into a small business that likely has overheads that will need paying like rent, electricity or stock and it may well mean you’ll be top of the queue when they reopen!

Look around where you live, are any of your neighbours creating or producing products? Ireland has an abundance of small entrepreneurs selling everything from handmade soaps, jewellery and personalised gifts like picture frames and keepsakes.

Social media again is a great way of finding out about and reaching out to local business because despite the lockdown babies are still being born and birthdays are still being celebrated and thoughtful, special gifts have probably never been so important.

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