With so many small businesses having to shut down due to COVID-19, Savoo collaborated with businessman and founder of Fnx Media Paul Walker to find out what we can do as consumers to support our local business community.
‘Spending a couple of weeks on a COVID ward being kept alive by the tremendous skills of our NHS was a life-changing experience. Especially when one of the doctors looked me in the eye and mentioned something about a heart attack. I’ve definitely had better days, and recovery was a slow and painful experience that my doctors helped me countless ways,’ said Paul Walker.
Paul compares his time in hospital with what COVID-19 has done for small, local businesses because he explains: ‘While there are always a few that flourish in a crisis, the reality is the majority are really hurting and need to find a way back…’
He commented: ‘The pandemic means consumers and businesses have shifted to buying online, which is a world dominated by the big players with big resources. The kind of resources allows them to get their voices heard over and above small, local businesses. So, if we want local businesses to survive and then thrive, we need to cut through the noise and find them. And because as consumers, we’ve shifted our buying patterns to buy online, that means we also need to shift the way we look to buy stuff online.’
So how do we do this? Paul explains two great ways to do this, which focus on the local community.
‘The first way is to join a local creative group. Joining this has been a revelation because it opens up a world of local furniture makers, artists, small-scale clothing manufacturers, and even computer specialists catering to this market. You can find any business, from greengrocers offering the most amazing, fresh produce to independent florists. And it’s a great place to ask a question. So, if you want to find something specific and unique, you can ask and get great, local recommendations at every price level.’
‘The second great place is a local community forum. So, I belong to a group on Facebook where everyone discusses everything from overly aggressive seagulls to the urgent political matters of the day like the state of the seafront loos. And in the midst of all these conversations, many people recommend local businesses and everything from butchers that have incredible meat to a local lady who makes amazing women’s headgear.’
‘It’s also a great place to ask questions because everyone is happy to make tons of recommendations, and I’m constantly amazed at the stuff we can get a big chain doesn’t sell that. Everything from inexpensive and high-quality men’s clothes to fruit and veg, and most recently, I’ve discovered someone who makes the most amazing incredible curry sauces. And I do love my curry sauces.’
‘Sure, local businesses can do more to help themselves. Social media is all about images, and we all have phones that can make great-looking pics that show off the love and care we put into making artisanal products.’
Paul added: ‘However, the onus is really on the consumer. If we hunt just a little more, we can find incredible, local alternatives, beautifully made, often at great prices, which can make us happier than buying from a big chain. And just like my own pandemic recovery where I needed help to recover, we as customers can be the solution to help local businesses get back to a good place. The kind of place that can really kickstart our local communities which benefits us all.’