Christmas buzz . . . Oamaru Business Collective chairwoman Annabel Berry puts the finishing touches on her Christmas tree in store at Design Federation. PHOTO: ASHLEY SMYTH

An initiative to further promote Oamaru businesses has had great support, Oamaru Business Collective chairwoman Annabel Berry says.

Fifty-five local organisations have taken the opportunity to join the new-look Oamaru Business Collective, which is now an incorporated society, with a paid annual subscription.

Mrs Berry is “thrilled” with the uptake.

“It just shows that there’s a real desire to work together, but also with 2021 coming up, there is some degree of uncertainty out there and I think that by working together we’ll only create a more positive environment and be able to support each other next year. Which is really great.”

The collective had reached a point where it needed funds for the events, marketing and promotions it was wanting to do. Owner/operators were being asked to subscribe per annum, she said.

“By contributing a small amount each we’ll be able to collectively run some campaigns, and do more promotions and have more options open to us.”

Businesses will also be listed on a new Oamaru Business Collective app, and be part of a Facebook group for communication and support.

The first event lined up for the new year, was a “networking event” in February, tagged Love Oamaru, which would involve a walk through town to different businesses.

A monthly visit to businesses, so they can share their experiences and methods with other business owners, was also part of the plan.

“The more knowledge the better,” Mrs Berry said.

“Also, we are going to look at an Oamaru-specific online marketing campaign, that we’re working through at the moment, and then work with council on any town planning.

“We can work together, support each other. And make sure we get through the next few years in a positive way.”

Business closures over the past year, and empty shop fronts along the main street of Oamaru, were on the collective’s radar, and different strategies needed to be employed to revitalise the town, she said.

“I think a real focus going forward, is to start talking about some broader strategies about how we can ensure a more vibrant town. To make sure we are welcoming business into the CBD and doing what we can to revitalise the area together.”

Mrs Berry said border closures had encouraged more domestic tourism, as Oamaru was a great weekend destination, and she planned to keep the doors of her shop Design Federation open over the Christmas holiday period, which she had not done in the past.

“Just because we’ve recognised there are a lot more domestic tourists around and it will be worth opening. It sounds like a lot of businesses are doing something similar, because we want town to be open during that period, when there are lots of travellers.”

Mrs Berry said business owners had also been encouraged by the amount of people shopping locally this Christmas.

“There has been an amazing uptake of local people shopping local and making an effort to come into town.”Asics shoesNike Air Max 270