Businesses and customers benefit as Buy Local hits 600

Over six hundred businesses have now signed up to North Yorkshire Buy Local, the online marketplace launched by the County Council during the Covid-19 pandemic to bring together businesses and customers.

Buy local users

As well as seeing hundreds of businesses register since its launch in April, Buy Local is proving very popular with customers as well. North Yorkshire County Council’s 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 those businesses is Yorkshire Dales Meat, catering butchers based in Patrick Brompton who have changed the way they work 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. We hope Buy Local will help our businesses remain resilient at the present time but also help them to develop a key role for themselves in serving North Yorkshire’s communities into the future.”

One satisfied customer was Rachel Fell, whose shower broke as she and her family followed Government guidelines to stay at home. But a search of Buy Local brought results.

“Our electric shower was broken, and when you’re socially isolating as a family, that is not a good situation!” said Rachel. “I saw the Buy Local site advertised on the Covid Co-operation Facebook group, so I searched for electricians in my area.”

She found BSA Electrical in Richmond, run by Luke Boston, who had registered on Buy Local only the day before.

“Buy Local is a great way for local businesses to offer their services during the ongoing circumstances,” said Luke. “The site is easy to use and very user-friendly. We advertised our electrical services on Tuesday night and had an enquiry on Wednesday morning. Within 24 hours of the enquiry coming in, we were able to attend site, replace a faulty electric shower for new, and provide a functional washing facility for the family to use – as they’d been without for a few days!”

Rachel added: “I was so lucky that Luke was able to come out the next day, and he reassured me that he is working within Covid-19 guidelines. Using Buy Local meant I could find Luke quickly and easily, and I would definitely use the site again.”

Sam Spence, who runs Crafts of Thirsk, was among the first to register on Buy Local and saw an immediate benefit.

“I registered in the morning after seeing it on social media and got a new order before 2pm that afternoon off the back of it,” said Sam. “It took me only a minute to register and I’ve shared it with loads of other people.”

Sam closed her shop in the market place when restrictions were introduced, but received requests from customers.

“People started messaging to ask whether I could post or deliver craft materials,” she said. “I spoke to people about it and realised how important it is for mental health and keeping occupied.”

Sam is in the shop three days a week to pack orders, which she then posts or delivers.

“I arrange a delivery time, leave the package and ring the bell,” she said. “A lot of customers are on their own, and a lot have taken up crafting during the outbreak and are asking for advice. People are so pleased with what they get they are now re-ordering.”

Businesses can register in a range of categories, including food suppliers, retail, property services, transport, professional services and accommodation for key workers.

Cllr Les added: “Many businesses can work safely during the pandemic, but customers who are isolating at home don’t always know what’s available. We were sure there would be demand for a place where businesses can set out their offer and people can find what they need locally, and the reaction to Buy Local shows this to be the case.

“I urge all eligible businesses who have not yet registered on Buy Local to do so now. It is not only a valuable tool for businesses and the public during the pandemic, but will create a comprehensive one-stop shop for North Yorkshire into the future.”

Register your businesses or search for goods and services.

This story was published 1 June 2020