An online marketplace is helping rural and regional small businesses across Northern Victoria who have been impacted by bushfires, drought, and the coronavirus.
Spend With Us — Buy From a Bush Business Marketplace, supports rural businesses that find it hard to compete due to location, size, and technology.
The website www.spendwithus.com.au was created in January by NSW web designer Sarah Britz who wanted to do more than donate during the recent bushfires.
“I tried to see how I could help small businesses who were struggling to sell their products and pay their staff,” she said.
“I think at this time these small businesses aren't going to survive and recover if we don't support them.
“I'd like people, if they're looking to buy gifts or products, to come onto our site first to support small businesses.”
Buy From a Bush Business founder Jenn Donovan has a farm just outside Mulwala and said she knew first hand how difficult it could be for regional communities.
Mrs Donovan grew a community of people on Facebook who wanted to support small businesses throughout the drought, and the community has grown past 270,000 members.
That was when Spend With Us and Buy From a Bush Business decided to combine their efforts to build a central platform for regional businesses to sell their products.
“Everyone was really sad last year coming into Christmas so I created a group were people could find out where to buy from local producers,” Mrs Donovan said.
“One of the biggest problems with a group this size is things disappear quite quickly and I knew I had to turn it into a marketplace to give the buyers a chance — I just couldn't do it by myself.”
The combined marketplace now has a growing community of buyers who are mindful of where they spend their money.
Businesses can create their own free website store where Australians across the country can find their products and support them.
All communication is done directly between the seller and buyer.
“Local businesses make up so much of the landscape of Australia,” Mrs Donovan said.
“I started the group about 10 months now, so that's huge growth; it goes to show Australians want to look after the little guy and shop local.”
● To buy from a bush business, visit: www.spendwithus.com.au