The launch of the Oamaru Business Collective’s Shoptober campaign last week was “great start” to make a difference in the local business community, organiser Annabel Berry says.
Shoptober is a key element of the collective’s wider plan to revitalise the North Otago town’s central business district and persuade shoppers to consider buying from businesses in Oamaru first, before going online – or taking a trip to nearby cities.
It was launched on October 3, and more than 45 businesses – located from Torridge to Wansbeck Sts – opened for late-night shopping until 8pm, many hosting in-store specials, activities and events to celebrate.
The Waitaki District Council also made parking in Oamaru free for the day.
“The launch of Shoptober was a great start to what we want to achieve as a group which is to strengthen our relationship with the community and encourage people into our businesses,” Mrs Berry said.
“We have received so much positive feedback from everyone. Customers loved the opportunity to shop at night.
“A big hit was the free parking. It just removed that aspect from the experience and people felt really relaxed parking up and then wandering through town.”
Mrs Berry, who is the creative director of Design Federation and founder of the Oamaru Business Collective, thanked everyone who took part in the Shoptober launch and those who were continuing efforts to shop locally throughout October.
“It means the world to our small businesses,” she said.
“We hope that everyone continues to engage with our businesses throughout October and only shop local for this month.
“Give all the local businesses the opportunity to provide you with the goods and services you require before looking outside of town.
“Shop local, support local, love local.”
The Oamaru Business Collective would continue to promote shopping locally for the rest of October – and beyond, she said.
“As a group, we are keen to do some more late nights in the lead-up to Christmas. In particular, we are looking at a ladies’ night in November.
“We are currently in discussions around how many late nights we want to commit to over the next couple of months, but all see the benefit to do quite a few before Christmas to give people fun, late-night shopping events.”
The Oamaru Business Collective was formed after a community meeting in July about the challenges of business in Oamaru, and concerns about the growing number of empty retail and office spaces in the town’s main street.
It now has more than 100 members, including landlords and representatives from retail and hospitality.