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Collaboration . . . Nanna Bangles owner Olivia Kwant. PHOTO: REBECCA RYAN

Olivia Kwant does a little happy dance when people support local businesses, such as her vintage shop, Nanna Bangles, in Oamaru’s Victorian precinct. Shopping local has a direct impact on the lives of business owners, and she believes collaboration takes Oamaru businesses further than competition.

I have been open for almost two years now, watching our local retail sector evolve over this time.

I chose to open my business because I have chronic health conditions that mean I’m unable to work a 40-hour week.

I am especially thankful for the support of my customers, as this is a preferable option, for me, than relying on a sickness benefit.

Lately, I have found it heart-warming to consider how local businesses have been working together for the benefit of all of us. If we can’t help someone find what they’re looking for, we know where to send them.

One initiative I have put in place is the second-hand shop map I have produced.

I was continually asked for information on where other second-hand shops are located in Oamaru.

Although my ancestors were cartographers, I can’t say much for my map-drawing skills.

But, seeing a gap in the market, I designed and printed my first run of maps. These have since been distributed to some of the second-hand shops in town, and I have supplied some copies to op shops, which can then take a donation in return for the map.

I am about to place my second order with the printer, showing that we can collaborate with sympathetic businesses without hurting our own business.

I see that our community can actually strengthen by working together, rather than seeing others as competition.

Earlier this year I also conducted a giveaway on Facebook, in conjunction with Tiger Lily’s.

They provided the prize, and I provided the platform and my followers to help them gain new customers.

We also commonly encourage our customers to check other shops out.

I really do enjoy coming down in the morning and seeing other businesses opening up at the start of the day.

We have the makings of a great wee community; I feel like I can send customers to other businesses with the confidence they will have an enjoyable experience. If a tourist has a fantastic time in Oamaru and tells their friends, think of all the people who are hearing about us! Every transaction matters.

I would like to thank all the locals who continually drop in to support our businesses on a regular basis.

To encourage this more, I have also produced a loyalty card for my shop, giving people another reason to keep coming back. When customers support local business, they have a direct impact on our lives – and we do a little happy dance.

I love to see how many people are now shopping locally and sustainably for gifts and other purchases. We couldn’t do this without our locals!