How your $$$$ can help a small town suffering after the 2020 NSW Bushfires!
Rural Australia needs YOU!!
Campaigns like #spendwiththem, #roadtripforgood and #emptyesky are saving rural Australia. These campaigns are encouraging visitors back to drought and bushfire affected towns on the South Coast of NSW. I have seen a steady trickle of guests visiting our small village of Kangaroo Valley in the Shoalhaven who are telling me that they want to spend money in the fire-struck areas. This is just what these little towns need, as roads were closed due to fires along the length of the coast and summer visitation plummeted resulting in businesses closing and towns suffering.
So how can you make a real difference to these communities right now?
Firstly, don’t be scared to visit these little towns – even the hardest hit villages are “Open for Business” and need your support now, and you will be welcomed with absolute open arms. The best way is to spend your hard-earned dollars in a way that multiplies its value. Here’s how. The ‘multiplier effect’ means if you spend $20 in your general store, they keep $6 and pay $14 to local purveyors, those local foodies then keep $6 and spend $8 on ingredients in a local shop. Now your $20 has become $54 in economic benefit as the money is re-spent locally. Spend at chain store and only a small proportion is re-spent locally as the majority goes back to the HQ. So, every $1 you spend locally can be maximised.
What you can do as a visitor
Here are eight ways to get the best bang for your buck and spread the LOVE in rural Australia.
- Remember, our small retailers do not have the competition of big city deals for stock. There are less people passing by to make a profit. Don’t begrudge a local business because it is 10% more than in Woolies or the city – your hard-earned dollar will have a much bigger impact in a small store. Think of it as an insurance policy to keep variety in our towns and interesting places for you to visit
- Yes, do come with an empty esky, and even better, an empty car. Get your provisions locally, not just locally made honey, wines and olives, but even your basics from a general store or bakery or shoe shop
- Go to all the little shops and spend a bit of money in each. Go out for dinner and buy local wine from the pub, buy the kids an ice cream, get your sunscreen in the little pharmacy, pick up some bread on the way home
- Come with ½ tank of fuel and fill up in a small town, check your oil and coolant while you’re there
- Buy souvenirs, artwork and local crafts. Buy early for family birthdays and upcoming special occasions, send postcards, buy socks and hats
- Go to local events like garden shows and donate to community fundraisers – so you don’t want to win a garden mulcher, buy a ticket anyway and if you win ask for it to be redrawn
- Visit museums and heritage sites even if they are not your cup of tea – pay the entrance fee and feel grateful that these volunteer run organisations are here for ours and other’s enjoyment, education and for prosperity
- If you stay overnight don’t bring the kitchen sink! – use that linen service and stock up on loo roll and shampoo at a locally owned independent grocer.
The above ideas help your tourist dollar make a big difference to the NSW South Coast communities where the 500,000 hectare Currowan Fire brought heartbreak to the residents and stress to the visitors to these little villages and towns.
On 2 January 2020 the entire length of the Shoalhaven, all 160 km of it, was declared a ‘Tourist Leave Zone’ and the fire was not declared officially out until 9 February, when summer holidays were over and school had gone back. The enormous economic impact hasn’t just affected the tourist-based businesses, but many suppliers are suffering too.
I recently spoke to businesses as diverse as an ice cream distributor and the paper products supplier, both of which provide stock for stores and accommodation up and down the coast for hundreds of kilometres. In January business was almost non-existent due to road closures, fires and lack of tourists. Drivers had their shifts cut and casual staff hours were at an all-time low. And all this in what the industry and the community see as their most profitable time of the year. Everyone had a terrible start to 2020.
So that is why it is so important to get tourists back to the area to spend a little, or preferably a lot. I heard of one shop in a bushfire ravaged town where a customer spent $1000 on alcohol in a little village bottle shop. He said he drove down from Sydney specially to bring the money into the area instead of buying at his usual ‘duopoly’ supermarket.
That gesture would have made a significant impact on a business suffering after the fires. The Facebook post about buying from a small business and helping a little girl get dance lessons, a little boy buy his team jumper, and a family put food on the table is true.
How your local business can make a big difference
Think your little business can’t make a difference? Think about the pioneers in Australia when they first arrived. They set up little shops in faraway locations and everyone had to rely on everyone else. It is much the same today, except that we now have juggernauts to compete with. But many little towns have survived for over 200 years with their businesses and communities thriving. Here’s some things you can do to ensure the financial sustainability of businesses in your area:
- Make a conscious decision to always use local suppliers – it’s just too easy to buy everything online and the money goes straight out of your town. If a shop doesn’t have something you have seen ask them to order it in for you – be it the bathroom shop, linen, or electrical appliances, car parts, etc.
- Order supplies from local wholesalers, they will get to know your business and be able to better advise you and they usually deliver too – bonus! Find local businesses by asking at markets or browsing other stores at home and in nearby towns.
- Use local tradespeople from small family businesses – IT, hardware, steer clear of chains, we want local businesses to be able to thrive without having to resort to paying huge fees to join franchises
- Form strategic alliances with other businesses – make packages that include a dinner out, or a kayak trip, or cinema/restaurant discounts. Small business has the flexibility to be innovative and offer what the customer wants
- Actively promote reciprocal links with others in your town, if you can’t fulfil an order or booking recommend a competitor and be sure to let them know – lots of successful businesses makes the town much more attractive to visitors and a nicer place to live
- Avoid large multinationals and chains which suck the profits out of town – the only thing they are paying into your town is wages, and there will still be plenty of others looking to buy the cheapest at the expense of local business. Shop in your local IGA or corner store
- Accommodation providers make sure you develop and promote your own website and avoid having busy periods and weekends available on third party sites where the profit is taken straight out of Australia. We need to re-educate Australians to book direct to avoid owners losing more than 20% in commission for all their hard work. Offer incentives for guests to book direct with you
- Have a map showing exactly where other great places are located and what they offer – take the guess work out of what’s open when – book your guest in for dinner or wine tasting.
My little home town is the small community of Milton-Ulladulla, and I have lived in many different places all over the world, before settling in Kangaroo Valley, between the NSW South Coast and the Southern Highlands almost 20 years ago.
The thing I love about these towns is the diversity and authenticity of the shops and cafes – these towns are thriving due to the wonderful little businesses run by Mums and Dad. Australia has over 2 million actively trading small businesses (0-19 employees) in Australia, which is 97% of all Australian businesses, accounting for 33% of Australia’s GDP, and employing over 40% of Australia’s workforce.
So, our little small businesses make a massive difference to the financial health of Australians, and right now these towns need our help to ensure businesses stay afloat, and to help the economy overall.
Prioritise local product over profit – Crystal Creek Meadows’ case study
We established Crystal Creek Meadows Luxury Cottages in 2003 in Kangaroo Valley, NSW, Australia – we are a micro business with just a few of us working here. From the very beginning we decided to spend as much money locally as we could. Here’s what we achieved and you can do too!
- Over the years we have spent over $2.5 million dollars with our local community, of which 58% was to micro and small businesses, and a total of 60% in the South Coast – from kitchen manufacturers, bakery, general store to the local chocolate shop. Our first choice has always been, and will always be, to buy local, and even one little business like ours makes a huge difference to community wealth.
- We have encouraged our guests to do the same. On average our guests spend over $288 per person in Kangaroo Valley village, with 92% eating in the village, 65% buying food, 54% buying wine and 38% taking activities.
- Of course our ethos has to also be sustainable environmentally and socially. We have always supported local charities and over the years we’ve donated $68,000 in donations and volunteered 180 days. In January we donated $50 for every new booking for that month to The Kangaroo Valley Wildlife Initiative, which was born from the ashes of the bush fires and has been instrumental in getting water and feed to wildlife in the fire areas.
When we arrived our property we planted many different species to attract native wildlife back, and while doing so realised our guests also wanted to plant trees. With that we implemented a ‘plant-a-tree’ scheme where guests get their hands dirty and learn about biodiversity. The Plant-a-Tree scheme has also become a significant event for many celebrating an anniversary or remembering a loved one, child. We are now providing our guests with information on The Kangaroo Valley Wildlife Initiative “Donate-a-Tree” project which allows others to donate funds towards native grasses to citrus trees to the gardens of bushfire struck properties – what a wonderful way to provide future food and habitat for the many birds, insects, reptiles and mammals affected and at the same time help rehabilitate the barren ashy remains of someone’s once thriving garden.
The bottom line is that your $100 can make a difference to the small towns and villages ravaged by the fires. We have seen the difference we can make. Our guests feel good too for making a positive difference with their holiday money. Use your dollar wisely focus on the local businesses and help a small town flourish. And don’t forget, have a really wonderful getaway in NSW.
Image Credit: Visit Shoalhaven
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"Every detail has been covered by the hosts here, could not have asked for more. We were looking for a break away to unwind & we were amazed at the Billabong Cottage - absolute bliss."
Nerida, September 2019
"This place is truly spectacular! You must experience this, don’t look anywhere else, Crystal Creek Meadows will truly blow you away."
Daniel, Sydney – October 2017
"From the moment we booked and received our welcome kit, right through to the minute we left, we both fell in love with Crystal Creek Meadows. Many things in life help to bring couples closer together and this little gem certainly did that for Jen and I. We truly thank Crystal Creek Meadows for giving this to us."
Steve and Jenni, February 2020
"This is the reason we call this place heaven on Earth. It is one place we can truly relax and indulge. Thanks again for providing all of those special little touches."
Mark & Jacques, March 2017
"I've run out of words to describe how lovely Chris and Sophie are, how amazing the property is, how endearing the animals are (the wildlife, the chooks, Bertie), how wonderful the Luxe, Calme et Volupté was, so am wholescale plagiarising Horace."
Jon, December 2019
"Three days in my little cottage was truly not enough time. Do yourself a favour and stay here. I know I'll be back."
Zulug, Sydney – July 2017
"Crystal Creek Meadows is a perfect place to stay. It gets our top score for supporting the community by offering lots of local produce in the Deluxe Package food hamper and ensuring that their impact on the environment is only positive, showing others that you don’t have to compromise luxury to be eco-friendly."
Ali, January 2020
"We definitely recommend Crystal Creek Meadows to everyone, it is beautiful and peaceful. It was the perfect place to wind down and enjoy the company of your partner. Thank you for having us, this get away was everything I had hoped for and more!"
Alison, December 2019
"Best choice in Kangaroo Valley - all the cottages are magnificent. Very comfortable, warm and spotlessly clean. An absolute gem."
David & Lyn – September 2017
"We were greeted warmly by the lovely hosts and given some great tips on where to go for beautiful hikes & to spot wombats (which we did!) the grounds are gorgeous with chickens roaming around freely & beautiful bird life. It’s just a gorgeous spot in the heart of the Kangaroo Valley with lovely hosts who are caring & attentive. Can’t recommend it enough!"
Linda, August 2019
"My 4 sisters and I took our Mum to Crystal Creek Meadows for a 3 day getaway.
We were so impressed with the beautiful cottages and surrounds.
Sophie made sure we were well stocked with breakfast goods and was happy to accommodate us with any of our wishes. Loved everything."
Jeffrey, September 2019
"Quality, Quality, quality. Nothing short of 5 star! Five of us ladies had the most beautiful weekend. Everything was top notch. From accommodation, to food, to gifts and all inclusions. The place is tranquil, and Sophie is most friendly, welcoming and hospitable. I have stayed twice now, and will be back for a third time. Can't wait for my next stay."
Tanya, August 2019
"Loved our stay at this placed. Spent a night in the Billabong Cottage. The eco-friendly set up of Crystal Creek Meadows was refreshing and did not mean sacrificing any luxuries one wants. The real fireplace was perfect for a winter’s stay."
Maryse, July 2019
"Fantastic stay! Absolutely beautiful location, stunning gardens, delicious local produce. We could not have been any happier, would highly recommend."
Erin, December 2019
"Not a detail was missed. A gorgeous place to unwind and relax."
Anna, Sydney – September 2017
"This place is just amazing, everything has been thought of. It's comfortable, clean, a beautiful greeting and friendly welcome. Loving it! Thank you for creating such a beautiful space."
Christine, Sydney – November 2016
"What I loved most was the tranquility, quietness and peace of the place. It allowed me to relax and enjoy the serenity of Crystal Creek Meadows. I would go back in a heartbeat."
Amy, December 2019
"I decided to spoil myself and stay at Crystal Creek Meadows, and I can truly say it was the best decision ever! I was travelling on my own however I felt safe and comfortable here. I stayed I'm the Jolly Jumbuck which was absolutely gorgeous! The views were amazing, going to sleep and waking up to the sound of nature was exactly what I needed."
Joulihana, February 2019
"Perfect place for relaxing and unwinding especially with the one you love. Everything was amazing... such a beautiful spot and will definitely be back."
Linda, Sydney – October 2017
"We took the bikes for a ride to the river and loved listening to the kookaburras and tree frogs at dusk. "
Liz, June 2019
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