Published 05 October 2020
A campaign to encourage residents in West Dunbartonshire to support local business by ‘thinking local first’ launches on Monday 5 October.
The Loves Local campaign is a joint initiative by West Dunbartonshire Council, Dunbartonshire Chamber of Commerce and Business Gateway to support local business owners who worked tirelessly to provide vital services throughout lockdown.
Business in Dumbarton, Clydebank, Alexandria and Balloch town centres have been offered a variety of marketing materials and business support to help encourage increased visitors in the areas.
The campaign also highlights how businesses have adapted to support public health guidelines and reassures communities that town centres have reopened safely with enhanced safety measures.
The campaign is being launched following a successful application for funding from the Scotland’s Towns Partnership, and it is running alongside the national campaign Scotland Loves Local.
Support offered to businesses includes a toolkit with posters, loyalty cards, social media banners, window vinyls and floor vinyls to ensure physical distancing within stores.
Business owners can also take advantage of opportunities to meet with local advisers to discuss ways to grow their business; receive one-to-one support from a digital expert on how to improve online presence; access up to date market information to help them spot opportunities and make informed decisions, and also get access to reports to help them better understand the market.
Additional one-to-one specialist support can be provided through a Business Gateway adviser including intellectual property advice, business strategy and sales and marketing.
A range of free webinars are also available, including an introduction to selling online aimed at retailers who are not currently online at all or who are just starting out; how to market your business online and how to sell safely online.
In addition, funding received through Spaces for People is being used to create temporary and permanent infrastructure, which will make Town Centres safer and more suitable to support physical distancing.
Councillor Iain McLaren, Convener of Infrastructure, Regeneration and Economic Development at the Council, said: “This campaign is vital to show how much we appreciate the effort our local business owners made to ensure communities had what they needed during one of the most challenging times in recent history.
“While lockdown measures may have eased slightly, we recognise that the challenge doesn’t end there for our local businesses. That is why we are doing all we can to support them, and the Loves Local campaign will provide them with a range of practical advice as well as useful marketing tools to encourage shoppers back into our town centres.”
Councillor Marie McNair, Vice Convener of Infrastructure, Regeneration and Economic Development, added “Every single local business in our town centres needs your support and I urge you all to shop local. By doing so, you are helping a local person and their family get back on their feet, as well as supporting the local economy by ensuring our town centres remain vibrant places which attract visitors.”
During lockdown, the Council’s Business Support team allocated a total of £14.495m in financial support to 1,302 local companies to support them with financial hardship brought about by Covid-19.
To find out more about the Love Local, please call 0141 280 0335 or email email@example.com
A range of local businesses are supporting the Loves Local campaign, including Abidaisy Flowers in Clydebank.
Owner Donna said: “What sets local businesses apart is the personal touch. I know many of my customers names, I know what they like and can make suggestions in person, in real time. Because I’m a local shop, my customers can come in and see for themselves what products I have on offer, and explain what type of flowers they really want, rather than trying to choose from a stock image on a website.
“At Abidaisy, I know my customers are putting their trust in me to provide exactly what they asked for, so I put a lot of time into making sure that’s what they get.
“I had to adapt during lockdown. I started doing flowers from home and was still delivering. My customers were so grateful that I was still there for them when they needed me, especially for difficult moments like funerals. Although they couldn’t come and see my physically, I was able to use social media to help them see what bouquets I had been working on and give examples of what might be possible. I also sent images to customers to make sure they were happy before flowers were sent out.
“I put my heart and soul into providing a brilliant, bespoke service and there are many businesses in our town centre doing the exact same for their customers. I really hope everyone thinks local first.”
In the Vale, Lomond Fishmongers was busier than ever during lockdown, and they provided a delivery service to ensure their most vulnerable customers still got what they needed.
David, who runs the shop with wife Suzanne, said: “This shop has actually been a fishmonger for more than 40 years, so it’s at the heart of this community. We have a lot of loyal customers who we see every week and know by name and order.
“During lockdown we had to change the way we provided the service because people were most interested in deliveries. These were especially important for our elderly customers who were maybe shielding, as deliveries meant their normal food order wasn’t disrupted. Our customers were so thankful to be able to get fresh quality food.
“Now restrictions are easing, we are really glad to see people out and about a bit more and back in the shop. As a fishmonger, we tend to get a lot of elderly customers, and I know they really enjoy the conversation and social element that comes along with shopping at a local store. We can only let one customer into the shop at a time currently, and quite often that person will stay and have a natter with me until another customers arrives.
“Lockdown has increased our customer base and we are seeing more young customers, many are grandchildren of people who might be shielding, but others are trying fish out, or maybe spending more time cooking.
“I really hope that continues, as local businesses can provide a lot more than just products for the community.”
And in Dumbarton and the Vale, family-run optician and jewellers Wilkie & Rider have offered their services to the local community for almost 70 years.
Director Sian, whose grandfather first opened the shop, said: “Promoting local businesses and local custom is vitally important to us, because without local support our business simply wouldn’t survive.
“Covid-19 has brought major changes to our everyday lives, and for many has resulted in us being at home for long periods of time. Having local businesses on our doorstep that provide vital services has never been more important and despite having to adapt and overcome throughout the years, one thing Wilkie & Rider has maintained is the quality of service it provides to its customers.
“Over three generations, my family have invested and offered a dedicated health service to the residents of Alexandria, Dumbarton and beyond for nearly seven decades and it is testament to our approach to customers service that we are still here. We have built up a strong mutual respect and trust with our customers, which is something we feel you only get from shopping locally as this personal service offering is just not available online.”