It’s no secret that small businesses have struggled through the pandemic. With statistics saying as high as 60% of new small businesses have been closing within the first 5 years, the question begs… How are small businesses actually doing in the Tamar Valley?
Due to quarantine restrictions boosting online shopping, there would be the assumption that it would affect local businesses. Shockingly when asked, most business owners stated that they weren’t affected at all. “It’s the complete opposite here, people tend to go out of their way to support local business.” Stated Tanya, Owner of Noor Hair Exeter.
“The locals are great, they support us, they’re our bread and butter.” Said Lucinda, Owner of Moon Lily Kitchen and Cakes.
Fortunately, it seems that there’s this sense of community and wanting to support one another. It can make such a huge difference when locals make the decision to buy from a local business. Not only are they helping create jobs for your friends and neighbours, but it also contributes to improving public infrastructure. It’s essentially investing in your community, both socially and economically.
Regardless of support from locals, this isn’t to say that there haven’t been other struggles. A main problem that arose during the pandemic, and even now, has been employment. “Staff’s the big one. We’ve had, it’s not as much now as it was, but for a period there especially during COVID, we had a lot of issues finding staff.” Cody, the Manager at Shakers Takeaway, said.
Lucinda mentioned, “Because we’re very tourist based, obviously being ‘Beacy’ [Beaconsfield] the unpredictability and with staffing, it’s always really hard to judge.”
If a business needs specific requirements of its staff, it can also add a challenge to a business in a small town. “Trying to get people, to local tradespeople to be able to do work, they’re all busy and it means we have to source people from further afield, generally from Launceston and I’ve even had to source people from down South.” Gavin, owner of Exchange Hotel Beaconsfield, said.
Another big question people may be wondering, is if the cashless society movement may be affecting businesses. Lucinda responds to this question, “Not overly, the costs of merchant fees is because I don’t want to charge people for the merchant fees. Our merchant fees a month, are about $800 so that’s a lot of money just for fees to have to go cashless. So, the banks to me, should be doing a favour to themselves and to us, to not charge those fees.”
Business Owners like Lucinda, as well as other small businesses take on the fees themselves so you, the customer, isn’t charged more. Fortunately, a lot of local businesses want to be sure the cost-of-living stays as low as possible for you.
You may be wondering if there’s any extra mile you can go to support local businesses. When asked what the people of the Tamar Valley can do to help her business, Lucinda responded, “Just keep coming in. Spread the word.”
“Use the other things that we offer as well. If people have a special occasion, a birthday, if people are gluten free or vegan, we do all those sorts of options, and they don’t have to go all the way to town to get one.” Business owners all acknowledged that its businesses supporting each other as well as customers supporting them. By mentioning a local business and buying a product, that in itself is going the extra mile. “
It seems to be that supporting each other is the way to go, giving what you would want to receive in return. It creates this chain effect of benefiting the entire community, while looking after family and friends. There are even some fun and creative ways you can go about supporting your community too.
“I’m actually organising a Tamar Valley Festival.” Lucinda continues, “It’s the heart of the Tamar Valley Festival, so that will be held in the main street here. We’re looking at the 14th of October this year. It’ll be a jazz, wine, and food festival with vintage cars and stuff for kids.”
In spite of everything, it’s still important to recognise that some businesses have mentioned that for them, “it’s been a nightmare”. Many local businesses work long hours for little reward, and have been really struggling. Thankfully, some haven’t been too negatively affected and have had support from locals and other businesses. This is why it’s important to give those struggling local businesses a helping hand as well as those who are thriving, so they can continue to do so.
Tamar Valley businesses have changed after the pandemic; a lot of them going back to their old ways of operating, others with new producers in place, and some still recovering living day by day. Supporting locals doesn’t always feel like it’s created a change, however, it all adds up. Especially after realising it is a local person’s livelihood and their way of supporting their family and the countless other people supported through employment. Not only does it help the individuals, it helps the community as a whole. Keep it up locals who support locals, the business owners are noticing and appreciate you!
Lucinda expressed her gratitude, “Thank you to all the locals and the community that have supported us and we’re grateful and we love to be part of the community.”
Tamar Valley News would like to express a thank you to Moon Lily Kitchen and Cakes, the Exchange Hotel Beaconsfield, Noor Hair, and Shakers Takeaway for speaking publicly about the state of business in the Tamar Valley. We would also like to thank the other business owners we spoke to off the record. It has been a truly insightful experience.