As the country emerges from lockdown, albeit with trepidation, it is abundantly apparent that the landscape will never look as it did before. That need not be a bad thing, quite the opposite in fact. Many of the changes in life will have been for the better, including the way we have grown to appreciate the contribution of local businesses to keeping the economy running and communities active. Now a group of stationery and office products dealers have come together to launch a national campaign to ‘Keep It Local’.
Following all the grief and loss there must be lessons learned. Things we took for granted we have learned to appreciate and admire. The magnificence of the NHS, the commitment of our carers, bin men, public transport workers, lorry drivers, shop floor workers…the list goes on. All of them playing a part in creating a more united country with a willingness to help and care for each other.
Of course, they are not alone. Behind the scenes there are many other businesses critical to our economy that have had to either be put on hold or adapt their offering to work within new guidelines, keeping the economy ticking over, servicing the local community.
One such business is Meraki Colour in Oswestry who are at the heart of the Keep It Local campaign.
“We are part of a group of office products dealers who have experienced the welcome move towards buying from local businesses during the recent pandemic” explains Sam and Laurie, Meraki Colour owners, “Our mission is to keep that trend going as the economy starts up again by encouraging large businesses and government organisations to actively strive to use more local companies for their stationery, office supplies and other purchases.
“In fairness, the government has outlined plans that by 2022 one third of its’ spend on goods and services will be with Small and Medium-sized Enterprises. Our campaign is raising the awareness of that plan, ensuring that this target is met, and the public are provided with regular updates of progress; and to encourage all other businesses to follow suit.”
The idea of buying local has been gathering momentum in recent years, but with the Covid-19 outbreak the landscape changed suddenly and dramatically. Many retail businesses had to completely shut down; yet still they adapted their ways to service the community with local drop-offs, safe pick-up points, newly built websites to communicate ordering processes, taking orders over social media – They adapted to survive, and in doing so, these shops became the life-blood of the local community.
Other businesses that were still permitted to operate, albeit with restricted travel and furloughed staff, carried on adapting the way they operated with skeleton teams; sourcing and supplying huge amounts of PPE equipment for NHS accounts, general practitioners, care homes and pharmacies and more recently, like in the case of Meraki Colour offering local businesses support with social distancing products and advice to help the country to get back to business. All products that were alien to them just a few months ago.
“The support from the local area has been heart-warming” concluded Sam & Laurie “and has enabled us to stay afloat through the pandemic. Now as we head back towards ‘normality’ it is essential that we do not forget about businesses like us that have helped to keep the country ticking over, which is why it is so important that people get behind our Keep It Local campaign – signing our petition online demanding that the government stick to their small business spending plans, writing to their local MP and engaging with the campaign by taking photographs of them buying locally. Together we can change the buying habits of a nation and grow our local economy by increasing spend in our communities and taking us into a healthier and wealthier new era.”
More information on the benefits of supporting local businesses and how to get involved with the campaign can be found at www.keep-it-local.co.uk”