Support your local
What’s the big deal with supporting NZ business? Ruth Stowers chats to the founder of the new uber successful Facebook page that is providing businesses a platform during COVID-19.
“Support your local” and “back NZ made'' are phrases becoming increasingly prevalent on social media, particularly now with Aotearoa in a strange sort of limbo. And it’s no surprise, with some of the devastating economical and personal effects of COVID-19, that people want to show their support of the businesses and the people behind those – and importantly so. But what does supporting your local actually look like? And why is it so important right now?
I (virtually) sat down with project manager, youth and community coordinator, former politician, wearer-of-many-hats Sarah Colcord who recently set up New Zealand Made Products on Facebook. This Facebook group, modelled off a similar Aussie version, provides NZ businesses a platform to promote their products and services to what has grown to over 200,000 members within two weeks.
Like many others, Sarah is a business owner. And also like many others, at the start of lockdown, she lost contracts and income. In trying to figure out a way to boost the profile of her business without having to resort to costly marketing and ads, she came across the Australian Made Products group on Facebook. That group had only been up for four months and already had 1.5 million members. There was no version for New Zealand and so that’s when Sarah founded the kiwi version: New Zealand Made Products. And the growth has been exponential – with over 300,000 members and posts in the 5000s that are still waiting to be checked and published.
Sarah attributes the huge interest and success to two things predominantly. Firstly, COVID-19 and the lockdown has somewhat forced us to look in our own backyard for things that we used to and would typically get overseas for a much cheaper price. As borders have closed and shipping restrictions have been put in place, we haven’t been able to get things that we used to so easily, so we’ve been forced to look around locally for those things. Secondly, it offers an alternative that many NZ businesses – many of them small businesses – desperately need during this time. Small businesses have been hugely impacted by the lockdown and just like Sarah was, are looking for other ways to advertise and promote their businesses without having to fork out. NZ businesses already have enough barriers during this time and money is tight, so they have been flooding the page for the opportunity to get their products before a community of hundreds of thousands of new eyes. And the page does really feel like a community. From wooden ramps for small dogs, to incredible art, hand-knitted clothes, retreat lodges, and pink gin, there is a plethora of NZ made products and businesses to support. People are tagging their friends, families, expressing amazement at the talent of others, many thanking Sarah for the opportunity, and many more editing their original post to say they have since sold out.
Supporting New Zealand businesses not only keeps them going during times like this, but it contributes to a bigger picture as well. Money that is kept in our country can create jobs, support our local economy, and get reinvested into our local communities in things like infrastructure and services.
So how can you get involved? Join groups and pages like NZ Made Products, follow NZ businesses’ social media pages, support their websites and bring them traffic. There are some awesome initiatives such as SOS café at sosbusiness.nz where you can buy a voucher for a café or restaurant that is currently closed so you are still supporting them and providing income but will also use their services in the future – a rain check mocha! Try to make a conscious effort to choose your local fish and chip shop over McD’s for dinner, or NZ made clothing or products over huge international brands. At the expense of sounding cheesy, Sarah has shown it really does just take one person to make a difference. Because then another person joins in, then they tag their friend, and they WhatsApp their auntie who emails her book club. So, celebrate alert level 2 with a treat from your local café and a Facebook like for your favourite NZ business.