Friday, June 22, 2012

I Get By With A Little Help From My Friends

The Beatles sang “I get by with a little help from my friends”. Many small business owners in today’s economic and social climate are finding that this is true. We are talking to one another, helping one another with ideas, referrals, and promotion of one another’s business. We have had to do this. If we do not work together we will disappear.

Anyone who doubts that small business is endangered needs only to look around Newcastle and note the number of businesses that have closed over the last while. There are restaurants, cafes, hardware stores, corner stores, motor mechanics, hairdressers, take-aways, butchers, bakeries, clothing retailers and many more that have closed.

Some of these businesses have closed by choice; the owner has retired or decided to move on to another career option. Others have become unviable, and have had to close because they are no longer bringing in enough income to meet rent, power, wages and other expenses. Each business that closes means fewer employment opportunities for our community. There are fewer part-time jobs for students, fewer chances for apprentices to get on the job training, fewer full-time jobs and fewer households bringing in a living wage. Each business that closes has a flow-on effect. They no longer purchase materials or services, they no longer pay wages or taxes, they no longer have money flowing into our community.

At The Fresh Ingredient, Udder Farm non-homogenised milk is a very popular product. Most customers love it, not only for its wonderful taste, but also for the fact that it reminds them of the “good old days”. The good old days, when there was a real community feel about our townships, when we had a “relationship” with “our” butcher, newsagent, baker and grocer. When we knew more about the providence of our food, when we knew who had grown our tomatoes, where our milk came from, or who was fixing our car.

It will take a little “help from our friends”, but we can re-gain our community feel, by making a choice, to support local businesses, to keep money in our towns, rather than sending it off-shore to line the pockets of big businesses. By supporting small business we help keep the heart and soul of our town alive. A town without a heart is a corporation. Is this what we, as a community, really want?

I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic. - Mary

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