February 9

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How To Support A Small Business

By Annette Densham


Lately, I've read two articles about retail that annoyed me! One was about all the retailers shutting up shop. The other about a hack of an up and coming Aussie brand. This is nuts. 

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The first one pointed out that as consumers, we’ve gotten used to never paying full price, expecting discounts and how many retailers make a mockery of sales with their never ending 70% off. The other was someone who didn’t want to pay the price for a quality product and came up with a cheap Kmart hack.


Then I read about an online store customer who was posting her venom everywhere because she was pissed off she missed the 10% off sale and wanted to be refunded the difference.


This is why I’m annoyed. When we complain about the price of a product, especially one made by an Aussie small business, not a big chain, we’re diminishing the work they’ve put in to bring this product to market.


This is a person who has gone out on their own, come up with an idea and poured their heart and soul into bringing it to life.


They’ve dedicated time, IP, materials, money, often mortgaging their home, invested in insurance and manufacturing. Then there is the commitment, sacrifice, learning curve and lessons and all the other costs associated with it. Chances are they are probably not being paid.

"If you don't have something nice to say, don't say anything at all."

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They’ve created a product that fills a gap or solves a problem.

The market, rightly or wrongly, doesn’t see or care about the effort or time put into the product. Or understand the ripple effect of buying local and supporting small business.


They expect bottom dollar prices, ongoing bargains, instant gratification, and big discounts. Kmart has trained us well – providing cheaply made stuff for very little.

"Kmart has trained us well – providing cheaply made stuff for very little."

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As someone wisely pointed out to me “there is a place for the Kmarts, Bunnings, Wooworths, Coles and McDonalds of the world. They provide employment and business opportunities for Australians.” They do. My son wouldn’t have a job if not for the multinationals.


This is not about whether the big guns exist in the marketplace, many are doing a fine job of putting themselves out of business. Something needs to change in the retail space.


The big mass produced chains provide products for less. I totally get saving a buck and being on a budget. I’m no money bags and can be a tight arse. I’ve been skint and had to buy what I can afford from these outlets. But as I have gotten older, I realise there is a cost and price to all we do.


While I save money on buying something cheaper, chances are I will have to replace it sooner rather than later. Take the laundry hack I mention above – while the lady saved heaps of money making her hack, is the plastic laundry grade, will it hold up against whitening agents, how long before it breaks apart with little bits of plastic needing to be picked out of her clothes or is it BPA free?.


Compared with high quality product she said was too expensive (at $60), it’s made of highly quality BPA free products, is sturdy, well designed (it won a Good Design Award) and is made by an Aussie mum who saw a gap in the market.

"Do something cheap, expect cheap results."

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If I have the chance to buy from a small business, to support our economy and theirs, by paying a little more, I will. Even if I have to save up for it, suffer a little delayed gratification.


I’m drawing my line on the sand. I’m not buying anything more from cheap, mass produced stores. I’m going to buy from second hand stores where I can and I’m supporting our small businesses, especially after the fires when investing in our people is even more important.


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Annette Densham

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About the Author

Annette Densham is an international award-winning publicity expert with a 30 plus year career in newspapers – The Australian, Financial Review, and Daily Telegraph, magazines (print and digital) and corporate communications. She uses her expertise to teach small business people how to use their stories to connect with the world and build influential brands.Annette is also a stand-up comedian, and as an author, trainer, mentor and speaker, she weaves her story magic everywhere.

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