• Ashley Watt

Searching for the shop local holy grail

Updated: Aug 28, 2018

I have now been working in the shop local space for over 10 years. Over 1000 businesses have utilised Why Leave Town’s shop local products (mainly our community gift cards), and I have sat in meetings with easily 50+ chambers of commerce or local councils.


To add to this, in 2017 I conducted almost 100 interviews with relevant people all across Australia, talking all things to do with promoting shopping locally. This led to the releasing of my first book ‘WHY LEAVE TOWN – Practical Ways to Encourage People to Shop Locally’. Since releasing this book, I have done a few dozen workshops around the themes discovered in the book.

Possibly one of the 'worst' backdrops I have had for one of my Shop Local Workshops....overlooking the ocean on the Central Coast. This session was on the back of an invite from Emma McBride MP, Federal Member for Dobell

So the point I am getting to is that I at least know a little bit about the topic of shopping locally.


This experience means that when I do workshops with businesses these days, many expect, or at least hope, that I will deliver to them the secret formula for success in getting more local people shopping in their business.


I am sorry to say that this is not something that I can do. Yes, I can give you a lot of direction. I can tell you what I have done myself, and what others are doing across the country (and overseas). I can tell you things that have worked, and things that haven’t worked. I can spark new trains of thought and get businesses talking to each other. I can also introduce you to a number of products and tools that will definitely get you moving on the right path.


However, there is no magic wand when it comes to getting people to shop local. Every market is different, and what works in one may not work in another. The best advice that I can give to all markets though is that you have to work hard if you are going to see positive results.


Too often people are looking for short-cuts. i.e. ‘Earn a six-figure income without leaving home’, ‘lose 20 kilos with only 2 minutes of exercise a day’. Unfortunately, there are also a lot of businesses out there that prey on this, and take advantage of people looking for these easy solutions. Getting people to shop local is no different. You have to put in the time and energy in order to reap the rewards.

If you are not prepared to do the long hours, then you can't complain when you don't reap the rewards

So what does this look like? Well here are a few things you should consider:

  1. Develop long term strategies as opposed to short term bursts.

  2. Implement several different promotions, products or tools. You can’t expect to turn things around based on just one idea.

  3. Be patient. Things won’t change overnight. It may take weeks, months or years before you start to see any real change.

  4. Collaborate with other businesses and/or community groups. The more people singing the same tune, the more likely you will see results.

  5. Put in the hours working ON your business rather than just IN your business.

  6. Constantly listen to your customers to see what their needs are, and adapt to these.

Often I think we look at success stories and think that these people or businesses have had everything served up to them on a platter. But more often than not, there is a lot of hard work that has gone on behind the scenes for this success to happen. Yes, sometimes people do get lucky, and more power to you if some things can go your way. But it is a risky strategy for any business to rely predominantly on luck in order to succeed. So I would suggest you hedge your bets and make sure you are also putting the effort in.


#Workhard #Shoplocal #Whyleavetown

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For more information call 0433 106 350 or email ashley@whyleavetown.com
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