Happy Independent's Day

This year we’ve been rather inspired by Retail NI’s ‘Independent’s Day’ campaign rolling out on the traditional 4th July American Independence Day holiday and we want to give a special shout out to all the independent businesses operating in Northern Ireland and especially in Dungannon.

All you have to do is take a stroll through Dungannon town centre and the surrounding streets and it is obvious that independent businesses are life and soul of the town. Small businesses here span almost every sector you can think of from retail, to manufacturing, to service businesses and agriculture. Everything we need is on our doorstep. These small businesses not only provide jobs, growth and prosperity for our area, but they also played a huge role in driving our economy out of recession. But yet, SMEs in Northern Ireland are struggling with 5-year survival rates falling well below those in the rest of the UK and with a shop vacancy rate of 15%.

So why should you care about that?... Well here are 4 reasons why:

  • We use them every day - If you stopped to buy coffee on your way to work this morning you probably bought it from and independent and maybe you’ll get your lunch from the local deli. If you’re from Dungannon, chances are that someone in your family has been employed by an independent manufacturer and they use the money they make there to make a better life for themselves. And when you go to have your hair cut or bring your car for a service, you’ll no doubt have used an independent. Imagine if they didn’t exist!
  • Jobs – The SME sector in Northern Ireland accounts for 75% of all private sector employment here with 30,000 small businesses registered as employers and if you are aged over 30 I’d have no doubt that you yourself have worked for at least one independent business during your career whether that be as a summer job when you were a teenager, your first full time job or your long-term career.
  • Local businesses at the heart of Northern Ireland economy – The largest independent industries that contribute to the economy and provide employment are Retail & Wholesale and Motor vehicle repair followed closely by manufacturing, construction, accommodation & food service then human health and social work activities. Dungannon businesses are planted firmly in the centre of these. The town centre and the surrounding towns are bustling with independent retailers, just drive the 4 miles from Dungannon to Coalisland to get a glimpse of the thriving manufacturing sector and our construction companies are too many to mention. I dread to imagine what our community would be like if these businesses didn’t exist.
  • Maintaining the local supply chain – Local business owners, perhaps more than anyone else, recognise the importance of supporting local business and so, many of our local independent businesses use fellow independent suppliers. By doing so they keep local business thriving so that they can provide jobs, keep young talent in the area, drive our economy and provide the services and products we have become accustomed to having every day.

With that in mind, I hope you can see just how important the small independent business sector is to everyone in our community and not just to the business owners. We would encourage everyone to do what they can to support them in some way. You don’t have to buy from them every single time but there are some small things you can do to help. Here are some ideas:

  • Follow local companies on social media. This is a great way to see what they offer and is also great for finding out about special offers. Sharing their content also helps to showcase local offerings to people outside the town who will then visit later-on thus building our economy even more
  • Make a commitment to buy from an independent a certain number of times a year. This could be setting the goal to buy at least 2 Christmas gifts from a local independent or to buy certain items from your grocery list from an independent store.
  • Have a conversation with service providers like a mechanic, an accountant or a beautician. Sometimes they may be more expensive than a big-name brand, but I would almost guarantee that their customer experience will far outweigh that of a multi-national. To these businesses, every customer is important, you aren’t just one of the masses.
  • Strike a conversation with a local business owner you know and simply ask them what you could do to help them.

Preserving a vibrant independent business sector is everyone’s responsibility so take the first step today and support an independent on ‘Independents Day’.

Website: Concept NI Web Solutions

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