Paul Pierotti is a businessman who runs Caesar’s Furniture in Griffith, NSW. Around two years ago he set up Our Future Is Local in Griffith and he has written telling us the story, how for some years he lobbied the Local Chamber of Commerce and the Griffith City Council to support local businesses who wanted and needed support.
These efforts fell on deaf ears he says and there were comments such as:
“We support all business not only locally owned business and if your campaign was ‘Buy Local’ not buy locally owned we would get fully behind it.’
Paul reacted and invited local businesses to his furniture store. From this point a committee of passionate local business owners developed and they investigated movements like BALLE in the US.
They formed Our Future is Local, a Not-For-Profit incorporated association, which is MORE than just a Buy Local Campaign. It believes in supporting, promoting and generally creating awareness of locally owned businesses for the longevity of a strong local community.
In July 2007 they launched the buy locally owned concept with a fuel discount promotional offer supported by Shepparton’s Geoff Allemand (Vic) of Scratch-me-Back.
The group encourages continuous improvement of its members through professional and business development. As an organisation it aims to be proactive, dynamic and influential, supporting its members and their needs… a great opportunity for our community and all local businesses.
Paul believes this group has had a significant impact on local consumers in communicating to them an understanding of the importance of locally owned business to the local economy.
Although it is difficult to measure particular businesses such as Rossies Foodworks Supermarket and Billabong Bottleshop have had profound success in his view.
The group would like to shift the focus from business and economy to consumers and tie in environmental, social, health & community in the coming year.
I asked Paul:
1. How difficult was it to get the fuel promotional offer off the ground?
Geoff Allemand from Scratchmeback, Shepparton, was a big help and support. It was difficult to get a locally owned Service Station to come on board because of admin issues but the operation was well received and well supported by both businesses and customers.
2. What have you done to create the understanding of the importance of locally owned businesses to the local economy? Newspaper articles? Radio interviews? Local meetings?
We have a website, a Facebook Group, and we email messages daily to members. We are seen as ‘business advocates’ and regularly do newspaper, TV and radio interviews, we host events and hold training sessions.
We have lobbied NSW State Government to create buy local procurement guidelines and to do a Spending Study to verify and quantify the exact $$$ effect of locally owned spend impact vs non locally owned
3. How ARE you measuring your success?
Our success is measured by the level of awareness in the community and in our small window – Griffith – I would say this is VERY high.
4. Do you have trouble filling committee positions?
Yes doesn’t everyone?
We are constantly being pushed by Businesses, Government, some sectors of community and the Griffith Chamber of Commerce to promote Buy Local not just Buy Locally Owned and as much as we are not about segregating or isolating anyone we battle with this concept (is Coles Griffith Local?)
Customers find it extremely difficult to understand that many local franchised businesses are locally owned….. It’s a battle.
The other difficulty is we do NOT support protectionsm – if locally owned businesses can not provide BETTER service, price, convenience and product they should get out and leave it to someone who can.
It can be frustrating when we are seen as the compliance department for all local business including lethargic non – members – we do not support these businesses. We support pro-active, forward thinking, community leaders.
Why is it when someone has a bad experience at Bunnings they don’t complain to Woolworths but its fine to tar us with the same brush….???
Would LOVE to hear comments on this very proactive Griffith business stance???
You can contact Paul Pierotti on Ph: 02 69642777, Fax: 02 69647982, Email: email@example.com
I hear from Paul that WA’s Peter Kenyon – social entrepreneur and community activist through his Bank Of IDEAS (Initiatives for the Development of Enterprising Actions & Strategies) – is dropping in to Griffith for a chat this coming Sunday – that will be an interesting conversation I have no doubt!