Now, more than ever, our local businesses need our support.
NZME, publisher of Te Puke Times, is this week launching GO LOCAL! — a call to action encouraging everyone to support their local economies by buying local, employing local tradies and supporting local businesses.
Business, tourism, hospitality and retail came to a standstill when Covid-19 put the country into alert level 4 lockdown five weeks ago.
In Te Puke and the surrounding areas, the support of locals is going to be crucial to getting our local economies up and running again.
GO LOCAL! will be supporting that by shining a light on businesses being innovative and supporting one another during alert levels 3 and 2 - and beyond, as well as and supporting specific buy local initiatives.
Western Bay of Plenty mayor Garry Webber says, given current circumstances, now more than ever is the time to support our local people, businesses and suppliers.
"Buy local must be our new catchcry," he says. "We are all in this together and we should all be working collaboratively together to find the best way out of the situation and to get those who have been negatively affected by the situation, back to work."
Garry is encouraging people to take the opportunity to explore local walking tracks, visit local attractions and support local cafes, restaurants and suppliers.
"Look after our local people, our local suppliers and local industries."
He says Western Bay of Plenty District Council will be doing everything it can to promote initiatives and projects that will employ local people.
Te Puke Economic Development Group will shortly be launching its own campaign to promote local industry and business and its managing director, Mark Boyle, says it is important that all the different parts of the local economy are supported.
''Locally the retail sector, the trades sector, the service sector - there are a lot of sectors - they should be your first port of call,'' he says.
''It's important to make sure that our local economy is sustainable and [our campaign] will call upon people to support business and to keep all the other elements of the community alive and well and prosperous.
''If sectors fail, then the community suffers - localism supports the district as a whole.''
Mark says there is a considerable amount of investment - for example by landlords in buildings and retailers in stock and employment - in the area.
''And if you don't support it and they fracture, then that has a negative impact on our region with fewer jobs and empty buildings, and there's no way you can argue that is anything but detrimental to all of our best interests.''
Te Puke Community Board chairman Richard Crawford says supporting local businesses is something the board endorses.
''I just feel that in times like this, people really should try and support the community they are in and stimulate our economy because everybody benefits,'' he says. ''When you shop online you might buy from China or America and really there's no benefit to the community, but when you start using shops and trades and services that are local to town, then that's money that's stimulating your area.''
He says retail trends have changed over the years.
''This is a really good time for people to reconsider a little bit in the light of what's happened. Just because you can't walk into a shop doesn't mean you can't support them.''
Epic Te Puke chairwoman Sue Peat says even in the early days of slightly relaxed alert level 3 restrictions this week, there has been ''so much more movement in town''.
''It is interesting, people's attitudes, it's almost like they've got another spark in their life,'' she says.
''I can see the positive coming from all of this is that we will definitely have this whole sense of shop local and people now appreciating a little bit more the struggles of the local retailers.
''This is an opportunity to support locals and get that sense of community, which has always been there, but which is going to be even stronger. If locals support locals then before too long our town's going to be thriving again.''