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May 2020 Issue
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Why shopping local is more important than ever

Neil Stichbury says buying from an NZ retailer means supporting local jobs, events, athletes and – through taxes – infrastructure
The impact of the coronavirus on the New Zealand economy means it’s never been more important to support the local outdoor industry, argues Neil Stichbury

Now more than ever you should be shopping locally.

I have a vested interest in what I am going to ask you. I own a small business that imports and distributes outdoor adventure product. I employ eight staff, four in a single retail outlet and four, including myself, at our office and warehouse. My business sells outdoor clothing and equipment to specialist outdoor retailers in the adventure, travel, hunting and ski industries.

What I want to ask is not as the owner of this business, but as a citizen of this country.

Often, I see and hear a comment about how someone scored a great deal by buying something online from an offshore retailer. That’s great you may have saved a few dollars, but your purchase does very little to help our country and that very little is even assuming you paid any duty or GST on your purchase as it arrived into the country.

The next time you need – or desire – to buy something to help you go for a hike or to go skiing or to make your chosen adventure activity more enjoyable, I ask you to think about buying locally. It’s never been more important to do so than now.

I do not mean from some publicly-listed or overseas owned business, but a New Zealand-based retailer, or even better from someone in your local area.

At this stage, many of you will be saying: ‘But I can buy a particular product online for this price and it is more expensive to buy the same product locally, why is that?’

I’ve been supplying specialist retailers throughout New Zealand for many years and yearly, the number of these specialist stores dwindle, not just in our industry but across all industries. These specialists employ local staff, they can supply you with expert local knowledge, they will support you with warranty repairs on a faulty product, they pay wages, they pax tax, they pay rates, they pay power and insurance all of which goes back into our economy and big parts of this into your own local community.

My business advertises in local magazines (including Wilderness), we support New Zealand charities, we sponsor junior skiers and New Zealanders who are internationally-recognised athletes. We sponsor events, both cultural and sporting, many of which you will be involved with as well. Your local retailers generally do the same. None of this comes free.

Your cheap overseas purchase does none of this for your local community.

Your money disappears offshore to support some corporate that showers you with emails, but gives nothing back to the activities we all enjoy, or to the economy and environment that we live in.

All I ask is that next time you look to buy, consider a quality New Zealand-based retailer, whether they be online or bricks and mortar. To borrow from a past American President, John F Kennedy: ‘Ask not what your country can do (and probably is doing) for you, ask what you can do for your country’.

Please shop locally.

– Neil Stitchbury owns Outfitters, the New Zealand distributor of, among other brands, Rab, Lowe Alpine, Klymit, Craghoppers and Steripen