Buy From The Bush move sends sales up 300 per cent
Buy From the Bush (BFTB) founder Grace Brennan says land in Warren, NSW, looks a little different these days. But while drought-devastated, fire-ravaged communities across Australia rebound with "hope and energy" after decent rainfall, the economic wipe-out of COVID means their efforts must redouble.
"Small businesses across the globe are dealing with financial insecurity and the added element of social isolation," Ms Brennan said.
"Rural communities have been experiencing (these challenges) for a long time … so there's this weird universality as a result of COVID and possibly a greater connection between city and bush than I ever could have imagined."
Consumer appetite for Australian made is not new, but the launch of BFTB a year ago immediately focused national goodwill. AlphaBeta's June evaluation of BFTB's economic impact found businesses on average experienced a 300 per cent sales uplift within a month of being featured.
The evaluation also found a staggering 97 per cent of BFTB businesses are female-owned, with 81 per cent run as a side venture - telling insights into the contribution of enterprising rural women and what Ms Brennan calls, "the incredible hustle of the lean times."
Perhaps most significant in an economic climate that sees Australia clawing its way out of a deep COVID-shaped hole is that a full 21 per cent of featured businesses hired new staff.
"We clearly branded, 'If you support these businesses, you will be supporting a small-business owner in a rural community who is Australian'. They're employing locally and they're all injecting (into the economy).
"It's all sorts of interesting, innovative, creative people working really hard and trying to navigate really uncertain times. In the last year, that has become a pretty universal experience, not just in the bush," Ms Brennan said.
After a year of reckoning like no other, BFTB and sister site Stay in the Bush have become beacons for what buying Australian means to fellow citizens, and what can be achieved by consciously choosing Australian goods, services and experiences.
"In the wake of COVID, bushfires and drought, Australians are more aware of the power of their choices around what they buy, the services they employ and where they travel - consumers and travellers can make conscious investments in the future," Ms Brennan said. "Cash-flow is generated that flows back into local coffee shops, post offices and supermarkets. Contractors are employed to paint shopfronts, design websites, print marketing materials. People are employed. Confidence is gained."