More than six hundred businesses have now signed up to North Yorkshire Buy Local, our online marketplace launched during the pandemic to bring together businesses and customers.
As well as seeing hundreds of businesses register since its launch in April, Buy Local is proving popular with customers. Our Trading Standards team checks the companies before adding them to the online marketplace.
The site brings together businesses and tradespeople eligible to operate during Covid-19 – from plumbers to food shops to solicitors – and customers.
Many local suppliers are plugging the gap to help the most vulnerable access goods and services. Among these is Yorkshire Dales Meat, a catering butcher based in Patrick Brompton, which has changed the way it works to meet demand during the pandemic.
“We are now doing door-step deliveries, which we have never done before, so that’s very different to what we were doing,” said managing director James Knox. “We are getting repeat orders, which I think says it all really, doesn’t it?
“All the time we are looking at new avenues for how we can sell our product until the lockdown ends, but is pretty tough, it’s hard work. We have to be proactive and look for business.”
County Council Leader Cllr Carl Les said: “North Yorkshire is England’s largest county, rich in rural areas and market towns and villages with a wealth of local producers and suppliers and tradespeople and independent start-ups.
“During lockdown some of these local businesses have come into their own as people have turned to them to plug the gaps for their supplies and their needs. Many have also played a part in helping those who are shielded and isolated and been part of the great community fight against coronavirus as part of Team North Yorkshire.
“We want to support these businesses now and into the longer term with Buy Local so that they can help to help make this current preference for the local into an enduring part of people’s long-term choices.”
Stuart’s Foods, in Scarborough, is using Buy Local to promote its fresh and local trademark to new customers by launching a home delivery service.
Damian Howarth, Managing Director, said: “We are still delivering to places such as care homes, hospitals, and some staff canteens, but we dropped about 85 per cent of normal turnover within 48 hours. We had to adapt, and by April 1, we went live with online payments, offering home delivery to the public for the first time.”
By signing up to Buy Local and turning their attention to social media promotion, they found that customers started to buy products from Stuart’s Foods when supermarkets were facing shortages. They also began to help other local businesses, including a butcher and a soft drinks supplier, by adding their products to the website, and including their products in the deliveries.
“We started to help those who are self-isolating and in the vulnerable category,” said Damian. “I was under no illusions – the general public will buy where it’s easiest. In a supermarket they can get everything they want – it’s easy and convenient. However, even though more shops are re-opening, we have new customers who are buying products, and some who are placing repeat orders.”
Another company benefitting from the initiative is Richmond-based Out of the Box!, owned by Janet and Roger Nutting.
Over the past few weeks, the self-serve eco-friendly food shop started to send stock lists to customers, take orders and offer a collection service. The shop has now reopened with extra safety precautions.
“When we sent out our full list of stock to customers, they’ve been surprised at the range of items we sell, and we’ve also started providing different items on request,” said Janet. “We have definitely had new customers, so we hope this means more people are shopping local – we want to make sure we are offering what the community needs.”
Loyal Out of the Box! shopper Angela is pleased that they have found new customers. “It can be difficult setting up a new business, and I feel it is important to support them or we could lose them,” she says. “I hope those customers who have discovered this great little store during lockdown will continue to support them afterwards.”