Owners highlight need for communities to support each other as they urge everyone to ‘think local first’ to help response and recovery from Covid-19
Melrose is flying the flag for a campaign urging people to think local first to help communities recover from the coronavirus crisis.
Town centre businesses are championing Scotland Loves Local, encouraging people to turn to local shops and services before travelling further afield or going straight to online retail giants.
They will push the message by featuring in the national multimedia drive, spearheaded by Scotland’s Towns Partnership with the support of the Scottish Government.
And they have spoken of the powerful impact that supporting them has as campaign leaders say the spirit of localism witnessed during the pandemic should be embraced to ensure a stronger, more sustainable, future for town centres across the Scottish Borders.
Lee-Anne Gillie, sales director of Melrose-based ERIBÉ Knitwear is among those backing the campaign and said: “It’s extremely important for people to shop local – not just in the pandemic but generally.
“When you shop local you’re supporting local jobs, local businesses. Every penny that’s spent is really a penny in someone local’s pocket.”
Hamish Henderson has run Henderson’s Garden & Home Store on Melrose High Street for 10 years.
He said: “It’s essential for people to shop local. Shopping locally is the way to go to keep the strength in the town.”
Businesses throughout Melrose have adapted their buildings to ensure all regulations around hygiene and social distancing are followed as well as adapting their businesses to meet the needs of customers, including online offerings.
At The Ship Inn, that includes using a fogging system to sanitise the pub every night as its team works to keep staff and customers safe, as well as supporting other town businesses.
Kayleigh Cameron, one of the team there, said: “All of our food comes from local shops in Melrose. We use the fishmonger next door, the butcher down the street, the fruit shop and other local shops as well. All of our food is fresh local produce.”
Amy Miller is the longest-serving trader on High Street, having run Miller of Melrose Butchers for 28 years.
Hers is another business which also uses local shops for supplies and believes everyone benefits both from the dedication of traders and the support of customers.
“The support of the community is essential – you feel loved, you feel wanted,” she added. “Everyone benefits because you can extend your product, range and quality. I’m proud of being part of the business community in Melrose.”
Malcolm Wilson, whose family have run Abbey Fine Wines and Coffee Shop on Market Square for 26 years, believes the range of independent shops are a major draw for people to Melrose.
On the importance of shopping local, he said: “Support from the community means everything to us. It’s not just about livelihood, it’s engaging with the community.”
Polling commissioned by Scotland’s Towns Partnership for the Scotland Loves Local campaign has shown that across the South of Scotland 47% of people will always shop on their local high street rather than going further afield, whenever they can do so.
Of those surveyed, 94% believe there is a strong chance that many businesses on the local high street will go bust if people don’t support them.
Phil Prentice, chief officer of Scotland’s Towns Partnership, said: “We’re delighted to have the support of businesses in Melrose for the Scotland Loves Local campaign.
“The positive power of people supporting their high street should not be underestimated. Every pound spent locally flips six times in the area’s economy, so the knock-on effect is significant. Thinking local first protects jobs, helps the environment and helps make our communities better places to live – all of which is vital for the future of the Scottish Borders.”
Scotland’s Communities Secretary Aileen Campbell said: “There has never been a more important time to consider supporting local businesses whether by visiting your local town centre or sampling what local digital businesses have to offer.
“It is great news that the majority of Scots are keen to do just that and we know money spent locally is more likely to stay in the local economy.
“We all have a part to play in Scotland’s economic recovery and can do so, whilst we look out for one another and follow the FACTS guidance.”
Image: Some of the businesses in Melrose which are supporting the Scotland Loves Local campaign, left to right: Hamish Henderson, Henderson Garden & Home Store; Jennifer Shealrow, Dalgetty’s Bakers & Tearoom; Marion Pate, Maid By Marion; Craig Scott, W.A. Williamson Greengrocer; Lesley Landels, Love Scottish; Malcolm Wilson, Abbey Fine Wines & Coffee Shop