Small communities showing big spirit by supporting local businesses

WORKING THROUGH: Local sales and commissions have enabled artist Kes Harper, owner of Studio Gleaned, to continue focusing on her business during restrictions.

WORKING THROUGH: Local sales and commissions have enabled artist Kes Harper, owner of Studio Gleaned, to continue focusing on her business during restrictions.

Giving back to businesses by buying local and supporting local is critical in times of crisis.

Wollombi Valley is a great example of a small Hunter Valley area showing big community spirit in troubled times.

Located just an hour west of Newcastle and 90 minutes north of Sydney, many of the local businesses rely heavily on tourism.

On any given weekend the guest houses are full, there is an abundance of weddings, and the day trippers take advantage of the scenic drive along Tourist Drive 33 to see the natural beauty and wealth of history.

The past summer saw the townships of Wollombi and Laguna battling fires on three fronts, flooding waters in February, and now trading restrictions from COVID 19.

While the restrictions on trade and travel have resulted in a significant downturn in trade, many Wollombi businesses have remained open over the past six weeks providing essential services such as fuel, coffee, milk and bread to the locals.

EVERY BIT COUNTS: Incidental trade has helped The Wollombi General Store, which doubles as the area's local Australia Post agent, stay open.

EVERY BIT COUNTS: Incidental trade has helped The Wollombi General Store, which doubles as the area's local Australia Post agent, stay open.

"The mail and package deliveries to the store for locals has increased exponentially," said Stephen Patterson, owner of The Wollombi General Store and the area's local Australia Post agent.

"It has been a good opportunity for locals who collect their mail to grab essential items, and this incidental trade has been the key to me being able to keep my doors open."

COMMUNITY STAPLES: Raza Hasanovicm, owner of Laguna Village Providore, and has been overwhelmed by the local support for her business.

COMMUNITY STAPLES: Raza Hasanovicm, owner of Laguna Village Providore, and has been overwhelmed by the local support for her business.

Raza Hasanovicm, owner of Laguna Village Providore, provides fresh fruit, vegetables and bread, along with kitchen staples to the local community, and has been overwhelmed by the generous local support.

"Many of the locals who never came into my shop before are coming and seeing what a wide variety of items I sell," she said.

"They all tell me that even when this is over they will continue to shop and support my local business."

Kes Harper, owner of Studio Gleaned, located in the heart of the Wollombi Village, had to close the doors to her retail business when restrictions came in but has been busy at home creating new pieces of art and jewellery and is encouraged by sales and commissions from locals.

"It's been lovely to have the continued support while closed," she said.

"I'm really looking forward to reopening my doors with a fresh start when this is all over."

There is no doubt is has been a tough year for local communities and businesses, but continued support shows spirits are high.

Many locals are keen to keep businesses going by doing their best to buy and support local.

"As soon as the travel restrictions are lifted we will be inviting visitors back to our Valley with open arms," Kylie Gemmell, President of the Wollombi Valley Chamber of Commerce, said.

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