Local love . . . Sub & Tarctic co-founder Kimberly Bray takes an alps-to-ocean harvest approach to sourcing ingredients for her skincare products – from special wool cortex extract proteins and peptides, Manuka honey, marine algae and Southern Alps clay. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

When Kimberley Bray and partner Lyndon Armstrong started looking for a new premises for their business Sub & Tarctic, there were 10 empty shops in Oamaru’s main street. They had not planned to have a retail presence for the business, but saw an opportunity to help revitalise the town’s CBD and add diversity to shopping experience.

Having left Oamaru 18 years ago, and with family who have remained here during that period, it’s been fascinating to watch the changes taking place in the town.

The historic area has been developed, beautiful buildings like the Opera House restored, businesses have grown and developed, and there have been some great new additions move in.

What I love about Oamaru is that the town has managed to cultivate a unique identity all of its own, a celebration of the things that make us just that little bit different from the rest of the world and proudly ourselves. It is that celebration and attitude that I believe has helped the growth in tourism numbers over the past few years.

Living in Oamaru is a pretty special experience and coming back home to live here at the start of the year has meant a change of pace for the better. No more sitting in traffic, and there is time for biking and fishing and trips to the beach and river.

When we moved the Sub & Tarctic business here, we sold purely through wholesale and online. We didn’t have a retail presence and it wasn’t initially in our planning to have one.

When we started looking for a new premises, there were 10 vacant shops in the main street. It looked sad. This awesome little town, but with closed shop frontages.

So, we opened a retail outlet. It meant there would be one fewer empty space, and we could add to the diversity of shopping experience for both locals and tourists.

Since opening we have had some wonderful support from locals and visitors alike.

Every business decision comes with costs and benefits. The great thing about being an independent brand like we are, means the ability to make decisions that are about more than the pure economics.

We wanted to contribute to Oamaru, to give something back to a place that gives us so much in terms of quality of life.

If it was an economic decision alone, the reality is, you probably wouldn’t do it.

Without locals supporting the independent shops up and down our main street, how will they survive? What will that leave us with? What will our cool, vibrant little town become?

So here is why I believe in shopping local.

When you buy local, from retailers like Sub & Tarctic, you aren’t just supporting one business, but a whole wider ecosystem of our local economy.

You’re supporting the primary producers who supply our ingredients, the local print company which makes our labels and brochures, our Oamaru-based landlords who pay rates and contribute to our council. You’re supporting local employment for our team who go on to spend locally. We get to support great local organisations through donations and raffles. The benefits of shopping local stay here, they don’t go to a corporate office in Auckland or further afield to America if you are shopping on Amazon.

You are contributing to the ongoing vibrancy of this great little town of ours.

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