A Guide to Cardinia, Cardinia Shire, Editorial, The Big Issues|

When Support Local doesn’t mean Support Local

2020 saw a massive call to support local as small businesses were forced by the pandemic to close their doors. Cardinia Shire was affected as much or more than many other areas of the state because it is heavily reliant on small business. Campaigns ran. Opportunities were in abundance to adapt, or “pivot”. Subsidies and funding was made available, and while some took advantage of all that was on offer, some fell through the gaps, and many went out of business never to return.

Small businesses continue to struggle in many instances. It is going to be a a bumpy road to a post-Covid normal. Yet, through all of this, one very sad truth has become quite apparent.

Many businesses who cry and have cried “Support Local”, actually don’t care about supporting local, and won’t support local. They just care about supporting themselves.

To an extent, this is understandable. I mean, we all want to be supported, right? We all have bills to pay? No-one wants to go out of business. It’s not even close to fun.

One of the principles which A Guide to Cardinia was founded on was community – all of us, business, group, individual – in it together, co-operating. A Guide has been living that for years, now. Adapting to meet the needs in Cardinia Shire. Changing when required. Staying constant when needed. As we move into 2021 and recovery, A Guide to Cardinia is changing again. And yet, for some of the changes, I have recently been taken to task. 

AGTC has a number of Facebook groups, for various purposes, from community events to business promotion (links are at the bottom of the article). As a part of the changes, I am closing a couple of these groups, and replacing them with more effective and targeted options. At least one business doesn’t like it.

Shame that at a time when small business needs every avenue possible to promote itself and buy swap sell pages get more precious every day about business advertising that you would shut down

Facebook groups are only one small part of what A Guide does to support local. Clearly, this business either doesn’t know about the rest, or does, but isn’t prepared to make use of the other options. Now I’m not singling this business out through malice, but because it highlights the point of this post. This business, like many, has done nothing to support AGTC, and yet expects me to continue doing what they want for their benefit for nothing. There’s a few out there. They cry “Support Local”, but refuse to do so themselves. Putting the hypocrisy aside, it is a self-defeating attitude. (To be clear here, there are many local businesses who do practice what they preach – The Vista Cafe – is a great example.

AGTC Employment Opportunities has seen literally thousands of job applications and supported hundreds of small businesses, but far too often, when local businesses find out that to gain the full benefits of creating a job advertisement on the website is going to cost them (gasp) $39.90, the response is “I thought it was a free listing”. Yup. Give me all you got but $40 is too much to pay. Many would still throw $400+ at larger sites. Fair enough. 

The single biggest threat to small business in Cardinia – particularly in the growth corridor – is not other small business. Not even if they are in the same industry. It’s big business. (The cries for K-Mart or another cheap mass option are deafening). Big business have the budget, the influence and the supply chain that small business does not. If small business cannot learn to work together, support each other and do things differently, they will continue to struggle and die, particularly in the current environment.

I will continue to run A Guide to Cardinia for as long as I can. I will continue to adapt it as needed, and provide opportunities to everyone to strengthen and support them, business and community group alike. I will continue to do some of this for free for businesses and community – and promote my paid options as well. If you would like to know more about what AGTC can do to support you, just ask.

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