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Business leaders . . . Members of the newly elected Oamaru Business Collective committee are (from left) Simon Berry, Cara Tipping Smith, Jeremy Holding, Rachael Keen, Annabel Berry (chairwoman), Cathy Maaka and Dawn Brown. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

The outlook for Oamaru retailers is a lot brighter than it was three months ago, Oamaru Business Collective chairwoman Annabel Berry says.

At the Oamaru Business Collective’s inaugural annual meeting last week, the general feeling was one of “relief” for surviving the initial stages of the Covid-19 fallout, Mrs Berry said.

“Also celebration that we are still here,” she said.

“We recognise the next few months are going to be quite trying and testing, particularly for a lot of small businesses.

“But we are here to support each other and everyone is trying their best to get through.

“Everyone was super-thankful to the local community for actually coming out and supporting the businesses; everyone has seen a major uptake of locals coming into their stores.”

Most retailers had noticed an influx of domestic tourists and local shoppers since the lockdown lifted and there was a real opportunity to promote the North Otago town as a great place to live and to visit, she said.

“We are the town with the most potential, I believe, in New Zealand.

“I would like Oamaru to aim high and I want us to be the most revered town in New Zealand.

“We want to challenge some of the perceptions around Oamaru that people outside of the district might have and show how amazing it is to be here,” Mrs Berry said.

“It is time we realised our potential.”

The Oamaru Business Collective was formed in July last year. It now has about 280 members.

Last week, a committee was elected and it became registered as an incorporated society.

Committee members elected were Oamaru Licensing Trust manager Cathy Maaka, The Business Hive director Cara Tipping Smith, Soul Surf and Skate owner Jeremy Holding, Rebellious Rose owner Rachael Keen, Presence on Harbour owner Dawn Brown and Whitestone Cheese managing director and North Otago Chamber of Commerce chairman Simon Berry.

“Everyone is really enjoying getting to know each other and working together rather than being isolated,” Mrs Berry said.

“We feed off each other . . . being competitive is so 1990s.”

If the collective could get funding, the committee would look at employing a part-time activities and events manager, Mrs Berry said.

Last year’s Shoptober campaign was a success and would be run again this year, she said. The promotion would be launched with an event on October 3 and in-store events would be held throughout the month.

“We want to build on it every year,” she said.