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Meet the businesses championing the drive to choose local

Business owners in Prestwick are leading a rallying cry for people across Scotland to choose local and spend with businesses in their region.

A number of Main Street traders are fronting the latest phase of the Scotland Loves Local campaign – with a message that’s critical, coming during the lucrative countdown to Christmas.

But it’s one that they hope will continue to ring out loud well beyond the festive period – urging people to make a permanent change to support and spend with businesses in their community, fuelling the financial fightback from Covid-19.

The Prestwick personalities are the faces of the latest phase of the multi-media campaign, leading the call to action on social media via #ScotlandLovesLocal.

Stephen and Cherlene Cooper, of Daisy Chain Gift Shop and Post Office, are among them.

The couple, who have run their business for 14 years, were last year named High Street Heroes by Scotland Loves Local for their tireless work to support their customers and community during the first lockdown and beyond.

Stephen said: “Without people shopping locally we would not be in business – it would not keep the Post Office service going in the town.

“We’re lucky to have such loyal customers – and some people definitely appreciate their local shops more now than they did before the pandemic. We hope that local people will continue to support the town and small businesses.”

Stressing the critical impact of people supporting local businesses, Lynn Arnott, director of clothing boutique Emporium, said: “It’s paramount. We could not survive without it.”

Scotland Loves Local is the national drive for people to think, choose and spend locally to support a stronger future for their communities. It is spearheaded by Scotland’s Towns Partnership (STP) with support from the Scottish Government.

Davie Crooks, butchery manager of West Coast Foods, has been in his trade for 35 years and believes the experience of supporting local businesses cannot be beaten.

He said: “Prestwick is a great town full of independent shops. For us, it’s all about the customers. They come first. We get to know them and our staff love it. We always work with local suppliers too.”

The ripple effect of supporting local businesses is also stressed by Lorraine Grant, of greengrocer’s Grant’s, who said: “If people spend with us, they are also helping other businesses because we source locally wherever possible.”

Peter Telfer, managing director of Urquhart Opticians, which also features in the campaign, added: “For us, shopping local is so important because when supporting a locally-owned business it keeps more money within the local economy, as they tend to purchase from other local businesses,” he said.

“It leads to community wealth building. It means our main streets are well populated and not vacant. Most of all, so many of our locally-owned businesses have fantastic produce that is unique, and often not as expensive as many would think.

“The pandemic highlighted the importance of a resilient local economy and we would encourage everyone to shop locally wherever possible.”

Like other businesses in Prestwick – and throughout Scotland – Heather Newlands and Kenneth Carey of The Keekin’ Glass and Inspirations are hoping for a strong festive season.

Heather said: “Christmas is going to be the biggie for us. Hopefully we’ll get a proper run at it this year.

“Local support is massive for us. A good 80 per cent of our customers are local. We depend on repeat business”

The rollout of Scotland Loves Local Gift Cards is also providing people another way in which they can spend with businesses of all kinds in their area.

STP chief officer Phil Prentice, who will speak at Ayrshire Chamber’s annual dinner on November 19, believes a better future will be built upon people supporting each other in their own communities.

He said: “The future of local businesses is in the hands of their communities. It’s imperative that we all make that positive not just to choose local, but spend local. It protects businesses, jobs and keeps our high streets alive. Everyone wins from it.

“Local businesspeople and their staff in Prestwick do a fantastic job for their customers and community. I am delighted that they are supporting the Scotland Loves Local campaign.”

Prestwick Main Street is a former Scottish champion in the Great British High Street Awards.

Keep up with the campaign latest by following #ScotlandLovesLocal and #ChooseLocal on social media.