Shop local initiative celebrates its anniversary

 Shop local initiative celebrates its anniversary

The Spend With Us – Buy From a Bush Business Companies are celebrating its first anniversary of helping Australians buy from bush businesses without going through numerous websites, scrolling through social media pages, or travelling countless kilometres.

Founded in the midst of the bushfire crisis, Devote to Us is now helping 800 rural and regional Australian businesses within their survival not only from the bushfires however with the COVID-19 pandemic that first hit about a month after the initiative was launched.

Spend With Us was founded by Sarah Britz, a web designer from NSW and designer of the site; Lauren Hateley, a clinical psychologist from Victoria; and Jenn Donovan, a marketer from NSW who had earlier launched a “Buy from the Bush Business” campaign on Facebook. Donnovan merged with Britz and Hately in August 2021 to improve the impact of their initiatives around the rural and regional small-business community.

The online marketplace has had a successful 12 months, recording achievements for example:

  • Onboarding 800+ rural and regional smaller businesses to the platform.
  • Generating a quarter of a million dollars in sales income with the website marketplace for small businesses.
  • Gaining 1,886,955 website views since August 2021.
  • Seeing over 303,000 members join the Buy From a Bush Business Facebook group.

“Reflecting on the year that was, the trio said no one could have been prepared for the impact the pandemic might have as 2021 rolled on,” Donnovan said. “Whilst the pandemic has highlighted Australia's reliance on imported goods, it amplified our willingness to support local economies and other Australians doing it tough.”

Britz pointed out that many small-town retailers don't have e-commerce sites or digital strategies, so creating a way for them to be online without all of the hassle has proved invaluable in preserving the income of many small businesses as they were instructed to close their doors to customers because of COVID.

“The shop local and shop small movements have gained momentum throughout the pandemic and the Australian spirit of helping each other remains as strong as ever,” Britz said.

The founders have plans to expand the platform both online and offline to help support small rural businesses much more in 2021.

“We are a marketplace and have built this online platform to support as many as we can, but we'd also like to support rural areas with some off-line support too,” Donnovan said.

“We are also very aware that those affected by bushfires 12 months ago, are still can not get on their feet. We do have a free bushfire 12-month membership to our platform, but we are always taking a look at other ways to support them much more in the coming 12 months,” Donnovan added.

Britz stressed the team welcome feedback from local government, their members and the general public on innovative ways she and the team can help local communities deal with lack of tourism and visitors or slower sales.

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