The chairman of the Forfar Business Initiative has backed the ‘Shop Local, Eat Local, Play Local’ campaign launched last week by the ‘Dispatch and Herald’.
Lynda Walsh explained most of us ‘shop local’ when it comes to good local tradesmen, cafes and pubs etc. Small local convenience corner stores will also always have their place.
She said: “However, a community needs much more than this and a return to High Streets that don’t look exactly like the High Street in the next town involves finance, creativity and the power to do something about it - led preferably by retail experts, perhaps semi-retired ones with no axe to grind - commissioned by the government.
“Encouragement and taglines like ‘Use it or lose it’ simply don’t work. People will ‘shop local’ when the reasons are compelling - and it’s not all about price.
“Encourage specialist music shops, jewellery makers, fishing tackle shops, children’s shoes shops (etc.) with financial aid. Encourage/enforce schools and councils to use these services and move outside their usual inflexible purchasing policies. Research abroad and encourage partnerships.
“Consider passing legislation that allows the tenant of retail premises much greater flexibility in how long they stay i.e. don’t ‘force them to the wall’ if things don’t work out. I believe this creative initiative must start at the highest levels and filter down. Then we’ll all ‘use it - and not lose it’.
Catherine Ward, Development Manager for the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) added: “A vibrant small business sector brings huge benefits to our communities. But the responsibility for the growth of strong and vibrant local communities doesn’t just rest at the door of decision makers and business leaders.
“The FSB’s “Keep Trade Local” campaign encourages all of us to support our local economies by buying from local independent businesses– whether those businesses are in service, retail, or manufacturing. We can all do our bit by thinking small first.”