Support the Locals FFS

This is going to be a whinging post.
But it needs to be said - regardless of how nervous I feel about hitting publish on this post.
This post also contains swearing - if this offends you - do not read on.

Every month I spend hours, HOURS, putting together our local makers market. Sometimes I ask myself, "What for???" if I struggle to get the locals to support us. Tourist adore our market and spend hours there - so where are the locals???
I get asked - why don't you run the market  fortnightly - I ask you - why don't you even bloody come to our monthly market!!! Organise it your bloody self.

Every week I get asked why there is nothing happening at the Art Centre. There is!!! How come you don't bloody come???? We advertise constantly - how come we are not reaching you? Are we over saturated with events/commitments/adverting? Or are you choosing to ignore us?

How much advertising is enough? How much money can you spend promoting an event if even the locals wont leave their house to support it. A community is not a community with out the community - GET IT!?!

I see facebook status complaining of "nothing to do" - when was the last time you attended an event or even organised one in your local community??? Do we all rely so much on our social media that we have lost the abilty to connect to our next door neighbors???

I challenge you all to go to a local event or better yet - create one yourself. Perhaps then you will see how hard it is to a) Organise and b) Get people to show up.

I'm having this spout off because I was SHOCKED to see some local makers complain of stallholders/punters not supporting a market over an hours drive away from us. Over the time of Made with Loves journey I had not seen this maker a) walk through our doors to support out local makers b) had a stall with us. Can you imagine how crabby I got - I mean the bloody gall of it!!! We DON'T need you to spend money at our events - but we do NEED you to support us by simply showing up. It's not hard to get out of the house - to offer some encouraging words to your locals - to talk - to chat to them about their craft.

Secondly if I hear one more person point to a stall and say "I can make that" I am seriously going to lose my shit. If you can make it - then bloody make it!!! It is just the rudest thing to say that within earshot of a maker!! RUDE!!! 

Have a go at making that item yourself - I bet you it costs you 100% more to buy the materials and 200% more time to source those materials and 300% more time to make it yourself. At the end of the day we know you think you can make it but are you really going to do it? No! You're going to walk out of the market and never think of it again. So stop being a smart arse and give out that $5 to a maker - have it in your hand that day - walk away happy - leave the maker happy and support your locals.

I can pin point the exact moment Made with Love local visitor numbers dropped. In town we had a "Cheap Shop" - one where things are made in China and go completely against our homemade values. However this shop shut down and our local visitor numbers plummeted. Who would have thunk that a "Made in China" shop would have been having a good effect on us. The location of this store meant that people who were stopping to buy their "Made in China" were also visiting us on their shopping adventures. Other business' in the community have also stated that their business has dropped since people are traveling to the next town over to visit the cheap shops and not spend their money in town - locally - where it is needed the most.

I am sick to death of people complaining of empty shops in our high street - how often do people buy online these days? I can't completely deny my involvement in such things - I do buy online - but not if I can find it locally. Locally shopping does mean that local business MUST maintain an online presence. It is beyond vital for a maker and the  home producer to have an online presence, therefore we can still shop locally in our pjs, without leaving the house at 12 midnight. There must be balance in support but we must be able to support "you" in a modern context.

Another thing I would like to know - is this unique to our community? Who out there in blog land runs events and programs? Does your community support you? Do you achieve large crowd number? How much adverting do you do for your event or do you rely on word or mouth and social media?

I have been doing community work here for over 10 years - it has always been the same people that support our events - and always the same people that don't. Is it even possible to engage with the "don'ts"?
With that rant out of my system perhaps I can feel better now and continue on as normal, with fingers crossed that one day our locals finally "get" what we are trying to do and create FOR THEM. We are creating community - are you?


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Michelle Walker is a Tasmanian born creative. An Artist for life, Visual Arts Teacher, Graphic Designer, Photographer, Hairdresser by trade and mother to two beautiful children.