A summer of bushfires ravaged regional communities and sent many Aussie businesses reeling.
Then came COVID-19.
For many businesses and producers, the coronavirus has been a final nail in the coffin.
A desire to help out local businesses has seen the buy Australia movement slowly picking up steam.
Now a new online marketplace where everything is Australian made and owned hopes to come to the rescue of countless struggling Aussie businesses and producers.
Dubbed ‘Buy Aussie Now’ the brainchild of Mitch Catlin has evolved from a popular Instagram account launched when the coronavirus pandemic first took hold in Australia.
“We started this in a national crisis and what was born – like often does in a time of challenge – was togetherness,” said Mr Catlin.
“That doesn’t surprise us really, it’s always been the Australian way.”
“We wondered how to support local brands, both big and small, who have always supported us. You know, the businesses who provide us with food to eat, clothes to wear, comfort in our homes and for our pets and even entertainment for the whole family.
“So we provide a free platform for Aussie-made businesses. We showcase Australian ingenuity. We bring you tried and tested products and services. And we entertain you along the way with real, homegrown stories.”
More than 2000 Australian businesses have already signed up to the online marketplace designed to showcase only locally owned and made products.
Buy Aussie Now officially launched on Thursday and will begin selling products from businesses in August.
Any Australian-owned business that makes products locally can register and list their products for free. The platform takes a commission of eight per cent upon sale, plus payment processing fees. Indigenous owned businesses and not-for-profits pay nothing.
Consumers can also sign up to receive product updates, purchase gift cards, participate in a loyalty program and receive relevant content through its Australian Life publication.
Local makers will appear on weekly Instagram Live sessions.
From makers of “traditional, very small, homemade” products, such as candles and jams to larger whiskey distillers and dairy producers, businesses in a variety of sizes and geographical locations have already registered for the marketplace.
While the focus of the marketplace is firmly on promoting Australian-made products, Mr Catlin says businesses are also getting involved for different reasons.
“Some want people to know who they are, and some specifically want others to know they are Australian made,” he said.
“For others, it is the opportunity to be aligned with other Australian-made businesses and being part of an Australian community together.”
Mr Catlin was inspired by his 80-year-old mother, who told him that people now more than ever needed to make sure they ‘buy Australian’.
This prompted him to find businesses and locally made products and create the Buy Aussie Now Instagram account. Four months later, he launched the ‘go-to shop or destination for people to buy Australian’.
“The sentiment right now is, people have always wanted to buy Australian, but they haven’t known where to go, or they’re time poor and don’t want to spend time looking for it,” said Mr Catlin.
The promotion of locally made goods is catching on, with eBay Australia this week launching the ‘Australian Made on eBay’ section in partnership with Australian Made that highlights brands selling locally made products.
“There’s been this trend towards local provenance and having some connection to products; COVID and national emergencies tend to increase that desire,” said eBay’s local managing director Tim MacKinnon.
“There’s something about humans that when we’re challenged by things we like to find connections to things we know and trust.
“We’re going to see more Australian entrepreneurs as a result of COVID. People are already setting up home-based businesses to take advantage of online shopping.
“There’s a huge role we can play in helping sell more Australian products overseas.”
When Smart Company asked Mr Catlin what will set Buy Aussie Now apart from the eBay initiative, he said: “The money is staying here.”
“One, we’re Australian made, and two, we’re Australian owned,” he added, but said his platform “would love to partner with Australian Made”.
While governments have done what they can to prop up businesses hit by pandemic lockdowns, Aussies can more easily now do their part to help locals and stimulate the economy.
“We know Australia’s more than three million small and medium businesses are the engine room of our economy,” said federal treasurer Josh Frydenberg.
“When you buy Australian made you’re not just helping the local shop, you’re supporting Aussie manufacturers as well as every business and worker in their supply chain.”
Are you one of the many looking for more Australian-made products?
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