Once upon a time in Warkworth, there was a business owner and each week people from all sorts of local clubs and organisations would pop into his business to see if he could supply a prize or a donation for their worthy cause.
This went on for years and years and often the business owner never saw these people from year to year until they came back in asking for his help again. Sometimes after donating, he wouldn’t even get an email or a letter thanking him for his generosity.
The local businessman, however, was happy to help as he believed in being a good community citizen. But then he realised one day that often those same people who came in year after year didn’t even buy anything from his business, and, as far as he knew, they never referred anyone to him either.
“What shall I do?” he thought. “If I don’t donate the children might miss out.” He spoke to the people next time they came in and they said, “Of course we will support you”, but they didn’t. They still did their shopping online or in the big city, and the local business missed out again. Once more he spoke to them, and they replied, “We would like to support you but it’s more convenient to do it online and sometimes cheaper in the city.”
Then the pandemic came and all the businesses were closed, and people had to stay in their homes. The clubs and the organisations struggled to operate, but some thought an online auction might help, so they phoned the businessman to see what he would like to contribute. The businessman thought long and hard as to what he should say. Eventually he said, “My business is closed. I have no income but still have bills to pay, and I have staff who I want to keep employed. While I would love to help, this isn’t a good time for me. But when I reopen, if you will promise to support my business then perhaps we can talk again.”
After a while the businesses were allowed to reopen, and the message went out to everyone in the town, “If you want our local businesses to survive then you need to buy local.” And once the people started to support all their local businesses, they were surprised to find that they were the same price or sometimes cheaper than buying in the city. The service was so much better, and they got to speak to the actual owners – who were the real people they saw around town and at the rugby club.
The next time the people came to see the businessman to ask for a donation, he was happy to be involved because now he knew he was dealing with a customer of his, not a stranger who only came in when he needed a donation. And the town and the businesspeople all lived happily ever after.