People urged to shop locally this Christmas

GOOD sports, Marcus and Ben Stobie, owner-managers of Stobie’s Land and Surf in Maffra, are urging Wellington Shire residents to support their local communities this month by buying local.

Getting behind the federal government’s Shop Small campaign, the third generation retailers, like many small business owners in the region, are spruiking the benefits of supporting local businesses and jobs.

“Small business does employ a lot of people,” Marcus said.

“In terms of future employment for kids in the area, in the form of part time employment, local business is the one that puts those kids on and gives them a bit of a break,” he added.

Along with providing employment opportunities for locals, small businesses are often the first in line to support local clubs and organisations.

“We get hit up for donations to support all the football clubs, local schools and other smaller sporting organisations,” Marcus said.

“We are a major sponsor of the (Maffra) Football Club, sponsor the golf club, we sponsor the tennis club, basketball and pretty much every other smaller sporting organisation there is,” Ben said, indicating the store also supported other community clubs and organisations every year.

“Being a shopkeeper, it’s pretty easy for people to come in and ask for donations because you’ve got a shop front and you’re sitting there,” Ben added.

“I don’t think a lot of people in the community realise or appreciate how often we get hit up for donations or monetary sponsorship,” he said, quick to add the store was more than happy to put its hand into its pocket to help local clubs, especially when its members were good supporters of the store.

“It does become a bit of a financial drain sometimes because we’re doing so much,” Ben said, adding that without sporting clubs and groups, the community would not be vibrant.

“They need the support as well,” Ben said, adding that being part of the community meant helping each out.

Describing small businesses as the nucleus of small towns, Marcus said streets would turn into ghost towns without them.

“If you didn’t have a shopping precinct in the town it would become a pretty boring and sort of drab place to live,” Ben said.

“It would be pretty boring in 15 or 20 years if we have to do all our shopping in front of a computer screen,” he added, lamenting the internet’s lack of personal experience.

“When people come into the store we like to have a bit of a chat and catch up with people, ask them how they are going, see what they are up to, that sort of thing,” he said.

While he admits that it isn’t always possible to buy local, depending on what people are wanting to purchase, Marcus urges people to shop locally where they can.

He said it was much easier to fix or replace faulty or ill-fitting items if they were bought locally than it was to return something purchased via the internet.

“If you can get something local and the local retailers are doing a good job presenting a good store, good service and good prices, then it’s just good to give them the chance,” Ben said.

Rather than parking right at the door of a particular store, Marcus suggests shoppers park their cars in a central location, taking the time to visit a selection of stores in the local area to see what they have to offer.