Tommy and Mary McNamara from the Sheemore Inn and shop at Kilclare
The Leitrim Observer is launching a campaign calling on everyone to come out and support our local and rural shops.
Never before has it been more important that we ensure the survival of these businesses as they face tough economic times.
The Covid-19 pandemic has hit businesses like a tsunami and no one can predict the future.
However you don't need a crystal ball to foretell that unless we, the people of this county, do our bit and come out and support these small stores in our communities, the future is looking very bleak.
Business people and communities around the county have backed the campaign calling on you, the consumers not to forget the local shop.
Of course people will still need to do a certain amount of shopping in our large supermarkets, who in turn provide much needed employment but we are asking you to share the spend.
Our local stores, whether they are in a town, village or townland, have well stocked shelves - indeed they have many of the goods which seem to be in short supply in supermarkets.
When one also takes into account the government guidelines re travel there is absolutely no reason why we should not be taking advantage of these local businesses that are open.
The owners and their staff are putting themselves on the frontline too, leaving themselves open to catching this highly contagious virus. But they continue on and have diversified as best they can with many now offering a home delivery service - they are doing all they can to meet our needs.
So rather than applauding them, show your support with some action.
If we want our communities to thrive then this is the time to do so.
Deputy Martin Kenny backing the campaign stated: ”it is important for people to support local business and remember that there is no “passing trade” during these times of restricted movement.
“All sections of the economy needs to support each other and having a focus on purchasing Irish goods will also help our small producers get through this challenge. While the large corporate owned superstores may sometimes offer a bigger range, the smaller local shops have all that people need and they keep the sense of community together in these more difficult times and need people's support now to get through this crisis.”
The staff of Mulvey's, Main Street, Carrick-on-Shannon: Pat, Catherine, Martin, Anne Marie and Marc
Meanwhile Chairman of Leitrim GAA County Board Cllr Enda Stenson said: “As Chairperson of Leitrim GAA I just want to put out an appeal to people everywhere to think local and shop local.
“From a GAA club viewpoint your local shop is and always has been the first point of call when the need arises financially or otherwise.
“In your local shop/business you get a personalised service. The business owner more often than not know their customers and will always go that extra mile to assist all their customers with their shopping/service needs and strive to send you off satisfied with the service you received. These smaller business usually offer unique products and services that you may not find elsewhere.“
“Every local business that can remain open through these turbulent times will greatly enhance the local economy and should be commended. However they can only stay open with the support of us all as a community.
“When shopping locally you are supporting your community. Small local shops usually support the local farmer. The local butcher might be your neighbour feeding his cattle and sheep on the lands next to yours.
“Traceability is never an issue. For this reason I’m calling on you all to support local businesses now as never before, it’s good for your health as you remain in the locality and if you can walk to your local shop even better.
“When talking to friends on the phone or in any form as you keep your social distance I urge you to talk up your local shop/business. When normal service resumes and it will, the local GAA clubs, drama groups, tidy towns etc... will be heading to these local businesses/shops looking for spot prizes/sponsorship for raffles, functions and fundraisers. These groups will need this support of these business in the future and so we need to support these businesses now in their time of need.”
Leitrim County Council Chairman, Enda McGloin, further called for our support for local and rural shops saying: “Parishes in Leitrim have a town or a village or something even smaller than a village and within that we have perhaps a few grocery shops or at the very least one shop.
“Over the last 20 years or more many of these local shops have disappeared along with rural post offices especially in communities that have witnessed de-population, now there is a grave danger that many more may not survive the impact of this pandemic that threatens so many aspects of our lives.
“The advantage they have right now is under government and HSE guidelines they can and should open to ensure our communities have a supply of essential food and commodities unfortunately many other businesses that retails non-essential items have not the same liberty. If they are open for business and the people living in those communities that they serve choose to travel further for all of their shopping they too will become part of the debris of this crisis when we eventually come out the other end.
Stocking up. Paul McPadden gets his vegetable supplies from Robert Lewis at the Manorhamilton Farmers' Market in Manorhamilton on Good Friday Picture: James Molloy
“Over the years many students have attained valuable part time and summer holiday employment through the local shops in their communities again another example of the local shop giving back something to the parish.
“Your local shop in many cases is the institution that bind communities together so my plea to the many people who live in our county is to make a commitment to your community by ensuring your local shop is your first port of call when you need supplies during the emergency.
“I encourage our communities in Leitrim especially those of us who live in the most rural areas to check out your local shop first when you need supplies during this crisis, if you can’t call in give them a call I am confident they will ensure your needs are met. When this crisis passes and leaves like the tide going out, we want to ensure that it does not inflict further damage on the fabric of our rural communities in Leitrim by bringing many of our rural shops with it.”
Ballinamore business man Gordon Hughes also stated: “With all the uncertainty in Ireland and indeed the world presently it is perhaps more importantly than ever to shop local and help support our neighbours and friends businesses that are all struggling at this time.
“As many of these businesses are currently closed and unfortunately some probably will remain closed for the foreseeable future it is vitally important that when the travel restrictions are lifted that we continue to support our local businesses more than ever.
“Whilst it will be tempting to travel to larger urban centres to do shopping it is important to note that our local shops and services will particularly need the cash flow to get back up and running otherwise many of these businesses will never be in a position to reopen.
“We have already over the last few years seen in small towns and villages the closure of various shops and services and it is important to do whatever we can now to stop this decline otherwise we will end up with ghost villages and no sense of community.”
DON’T CLICK FOR CARRICK
Joe Brady speaking on behalf of Carrick-on-Shannon Chamber of Commerce wants you to be active in getting “Carrick back to its vibrant best.”
He stressed “This too will come to an end and life will go on. For so many in our area working in the retail, restaurant and hotel sector, this has been a body blow.
“We all know lots of people who are out of work because of Covid-19. We all can help get a lot of them back to work. Carrick-on -Shannon Chamber of Commerce is encouraging everybody in our region to 'Don’t CLICK for Carrick'. Unless you’re ordering from one of our local businesses, leave your computer mouse down, close that app on your phone.
“What the Chamber are saying is, if you want to help your sister, brother, mother, father, neighbour or friend get back at work, buying what you need over the internet is an action that is the opposite to achieving that. We need to get these shops, hotels and restaurants back open but they can’t open if people just order from Just Eat or Amazon or whomever online.
“We want our town to quickly get back to its vibrant vest. If you’re going to spend money, spend it inside of the shops, hotels and restaurants of our town. There are a lot of people you know who will be very appreciative.”
Drumkeerin Cllr Padraig Fallon highlighted the importance of spending “whatever money you can to support local businesses in your community”.
“We all are going through difficult times right now but especially, with the restrictions in place, it is very important that we support our local businesses.”
He said.“I know that I have heard and many others have told me they are hearing of businesses which have been forced to close and the fear that some of these businesses will not be able to reopen at the end of this. That is a very serious concern for businesses and for those they employ.”
He said that it is important that people do all they can to help local businesses as no one wants to face a situation where they lose any services in their locality.
Tommy and Mary McNamara operate the Sheemore Inn and shop at Kilclare. With the pub closed the shops remains open 7 days a week from 9am - 6pm. Phone 071 9641814 for enquiries and deliveries
“I would urge people, with respect to the restrictions currently in place, to shop locally and spend as much as they can in local businesses,” he said. “I know that these times are difficult for everyone, but businesses are facing significant pressures and I think in times like that communities have a responsibility to spend as much as they can to help secure the future of businesses in our communities.”
Cllr Justin Warnock paid tribute to his local community and highlighted the importance of ensuring the survival of local businesses in areas like Kinlough and Tullaghan."
Kinlough's biggest employer is McGowan's Spar, but there are also people employed in McGowan's Newsagents, Simpson's Shop and in Tullaghan, Rodger's shop and service station.
All of these are open now and working to provide for our community," he said. "It is very important that we show our support and spend locally.
Businesses which employ our local people are vital for the future of our communities and we must support them."