Shop Townsville

This Christmas, make many merry by spending money in places where it will stay local. IMAGE: Karissa Chase at Renegade Handmade by Sarah Joy Photography

‘Tis the season for shopping up a storm and while many shoppers will give their bank accounts a rougher work out than they might like this Christmas, there is one way to make sure your gift-giving lines Townsville’s own pockets instead of the Big Guys’ this year… shopping locally.

WHY IS SHOPPING LOCAL SO IMPORTANT?

Shopping locally supports small business, sole-traders, makers, artists and community groups. It also creates local jobs, helps money made locally stay locally and allows greater flexibility for people who can’t work a “normal job” for whatever reason.

Before Karissa Chase started Renegade Markets and Renegade Handmade, she was helping to support her family as a potter.

“As somebody who was wholesaling and stocking shops, that was my source of income. I was able to work from home, be with my kids, make products and rather than go to a 9-to-5 job, I could make an income and provide for my family. If people are just outsourcing their products, the opportunities for employment locally aren’t available.”

THE “MORE” LOCAL, THE BETTER

Understanding where the products we buy come from is a big piece of the puzzle.

It’s not hard to grasp the concept that buying products made internationally from a multinational chain is going to result in a large portion of expenditure quickly exiting the local economy. But after many years of being conditioned to look for the “Made in Australia” messaging, it’s easy to think that’s where the role of the socially-conscious shopper ends.

In reality, sourcing goods and services from as close to home as possible is the best way to maximise the amount of money cycling consistently through Townsville’s economy.

Karissa estimates up to 70 per cent of the stockists in Renegade Handmade are based in the immediate Townsville region, with the rest sourced from across Australia.

“Even though some of them are in Sydney, Melbourne, or Brisbane, we feature them because we would like our Townsville people to be in shops in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane just the same,” said Karissa.

“We think that it’s important for us to show our local people alongside the top indie makers because then it makes our guys look good too. People doing the Finders Keepers Markets in the big cities know who our makers are because we’ll put our people in a photo with (products by major makers) Tiff Manuell and Emily Green, so they know who our people are as well and if they share our pictures on Instagram then our makers are getting seen by a much broader audience.”

IT’S INCREASINGLY TRENDY TO SHOP LOCALLY.

When we take pride in products made in Townsville, we’re creating an identity for the City that goes beyond “the big country town”. By supporting artists and makers who are inspired by our position between the ocean and the outback, we are inadvertently building on Townsville’s brand and exporting it to the world.

Karissa said she’s seeing more and more people brag about the calibre of locally made products when they bring their friends through the shop.

“I think when people come in here and you tell them that it’s mostly made here, they really grab onto that and that’s something they feel proud of. I’ll often hear people come in the door and they’ll say to their friend ‘Everything in here’s made in Townsville’ – it’s almost like bragging rights. Then we’ll have people come in from out of town and say ‘We don’t have anything like this in Melbourne.’ I just heard that the other day: ‘I’m from Brisbane and I can’t wait to come shopping here, because you’ve got so much.

“And Renegade is just a portion of it,” Karissa said. “There’s other places like Drill Hall and Umbrella Studio doing the same.”

IMAGE: Karissa Chase by Sarah Joy Photography

IS THE ECONOMIC IMPACT REALLY THAT BIG?

Short answer? Yes!

In economic jargon, the Local Multiplier Effect (LME) refers to the way money is “recycled” through a local economy multiple times before leaking out through the purchase of an imported product or service.

Different studies suggest the typical LME lies somewhere between 7 and 11; which means that for every dollar you spend, you could actually be pumping $7 – $11 into the local economy.

Karissa says she often sees the Local Multiplier Effect in action at Renegade and Cotters Market.

“We always joke at the markets about the way the money goes around – like if somebody spends $50 with one vendor, that vendor will take it and spend it on themselves somewhere else, so the same $50 may be going around and around and around, but everybody thinks that they made $50.”

Beyond the passing of money from vendor to vendor, the Australian National Retail Association suggests chain stores typically reinvest 13.6 per cent of their takings locally, while local stores will increase that almost four-fold at 48 per cent.

Again, Karissa can attest to this:

“Most of the money that comes through the shop goes back locally,” she said. “Our stockists keep 80 per cent of their sales and the shop only keeps 20 percent. Let’s say someone sells $1,000 worth of stock, they’re getting $800 back, so that’s staying local. Whereas $1,000 spent at Big W, probably $500-$600 is going to leave, and another $300 of that might go into rent. So other than the small portion for wages, it’s probably all leaving.”

SO WHY DO PEOPLE CONTINUE TO SHOP WITH THE BIG GUYS?

“I think for a lot of people it can be price,” said Karissa.

“Because to earn a decent minimum wage in Australia is very different to what people who are manufacturing for Kmart are earning and there are some people who just simply don’t have it in their budget. And that’s fair enough – I’m sure they do their bit when they can.

“But you can’t begrudge creatives putting a fair price on their work. We’re not here to compete with Kmart or Big W, we’re here to earn decent wages and most people are undercutting themselves anyway. Most people who are making are not paying themselves anything decent, but there’s a lot of time and effort going in.”

SHOP LOCAL HOTSPOTS

ART  |  Unique paintings, drawings, photographs or sculptures are a great way to give truly one-of-a-kind gifts

Drill Hall Studio; Gallery 48 The Strand; Umbrella Studio contemporary arts

MUSIC & FILM  |  Support the growth of Townsville’s music industry and film movement with your gift-giving

Arties Music; Townsville Cinema Group; Townsville Classic Films

ON STAGE  |  An amazing experience is perfect for the person who doesn’t want ‘things’. Find something online.

TownsvilleTickets.com.au; Whatson.townsville.qld.gov.au

MAKERS  |  Support local makers with everything from jewellery & beauty products to homewares & plants

Bespoke Designer Living; Renegade Handmade; Local Markets

FASHION  |  Townsville is home to some incredible fashion designers & retailers. Wear them with pride

Stellar Moda; Textile Collective

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