Christmas has come early to the bush this year in the form of simple but effective social media campaigns, #buyfromthebush and #buyregional.
This is an immediate leg up for country online retailers like ourselves, who by simply adding the hashtags #buyfromthebush and #buyregional to our social media posts, or registering on the NSW Government #buyregional online hub, are linked with potential urban customers who would like to support regional communities facing their third year of drought this Christmas.
Grace Brennan, from Warren in central western NSW, created the #buyfromthebush Facebook and Instagram pages In October, and a month later the Instagram page has 85K followers.
“I was very keen to feel helpful in what can often feel like a helpless situation. Having grown up in Sydney, I was also really aware of how much people in the city want to show their support if given a chance". When one of her friends mentioned that their family was going to 'buy from the bush' for their Christmas presents, the idea for the Instagram account was born.
Our town of Nundle has a long history of proactive rural revival and recognising the importance of sustaining our population to keep essential services like the community health nurse, pre-school, primary school, fuel outlet, general store, and police station.
This month's Nundle Business Tourism and Marketing Group Inc meeting we raised awareness of these easy to access opportunities. Since launching last week #buyregional has created a massive spike in visitors to our Odgers and McClelland Exchange Stores website and social media, and our online orders are up 50% on the same time last year. It took me about 10 minutes to register for the #buyregional online hub. Here, you will find Odgers and McClelland Exchange Stores along with neighbours, Nundle Woollen Mill, Sacs on Jenkins, and Stormcrow Studio, and more than 100 other country online retailers. I’m enjoying seeing rural businesses that I know from throughout the state getting involved.
We’ve even come up with our own micro campaign #GiveNundle to encourage our Nundle residents and visitors to visit our bricks and mortar stores to buy Christmas gifts. A great excuse to visit Nundle and do just this is the Nundle CWA Art Show (November 15-17) and Nundle Lions Twilight Christmas Market (November 16). If there's no chance of you reaching Nundle in person, you can support our local online retailers by visiting their webstores and buying goods, or a gift voucher for accommodation, a meal, or concert.
Nundle Woollen Mill owner Nick Bradford came up with the idea and sees it as a “feel good” campaign to help our local business owners. Supporting country retailers is not a hand out, or a well-meaning but sometimes puzzling collection of donated groceries, it is a boost to what you normally do and you are part of the reaching out. Then there’s the spin off spending on postage, groceries, fuel, music lessons, car registration…and local Christmas presents in your own town or neighbouring regional centres. The benefits continue.
There’s no doubt the drought is hurting our over-the-counter regional customers, who don’t have the disposable income or leisure time they had a few years ago.
We see B-Doubles and semi-trailers loaded with hay driving past our shop to neighbouring properties, our friends on the land are stressed and exhausted from feeding and watering livestock, selling livestock, fighting bushfires, and a new feature of our landscape, dust. Oh my, the dust.
Our own eight acres is a dust bowl and we have reduced our flock of sheep from 30 to six, which are surviving on hay and sheep pellets. We are fortunate to have bore water that we can use to grow vegetables and keep trees alive. We’ve given up on the lawn and ornamental flowers for now.
Whenever I hear country retailers complain about economic downturn I encourage them to take a leap of faith and create an online store. Our business has been online since March 2012 and online sales now make up half of our sales. The #buyregional hub has how-to links on how to set up an online store.
Be encouraged to explore the #buyfromthebush hashtag and #buyregional online hub. There’s a world of enterprising country people out there with retail businesses operating from rural main streets, to houses in towns, and homesteads.
Buying from the bush helps a bush community stick out this drought.