A successful entrepreneur from Denbighshire is spearheading a new drive to persuade people to support local businesses.
Rich Brady, the driving force behind Recruit Packs, Denbigh, is the first official ambassador for the #LoveLiveLocal social media campaign.
Conceived by Denbighshire County Council, the aim is to promote independent local shops, small companies and service providers and help them tap into the lucrative world of social media marketing.
Rich readily agreed to champion the initiative which he believes is a great way to shine a spotlight on the high quality and diversity of businesses based in Denbighshire.
It urges customers to use social media, including Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, to spread the word about good products they have bought or exceptional service received in Denbighshire.
Rich said: “By encouraging people to post online comments and photographs of favourite items they have bought, using the #LoveLiveLocal tag-line it reinforces the message that Denbighshire has so much to offer.
“I’ve already started using #LoveLiveLocal myself and I’ll be urging my customers and colleagues to support it as well.”
The campaign is one of the latest measures in Denbighshire County Council’s ongoing drive to develop and expand the local economy, promote shopping locally and encourage businesses to further explore the benefits of using social media. It follows on from the ‘March for Business’ series of events held earlier this year
Denbighshire Council leader Hugh Evanssaid: “There are so many fantastic businesses here in Denbighshire in all sorts of sectors from food and hotels, to shops selling uniquely made crafts and providers of first class services and unforgettable experiences. We need to get the word out and make sure as many people as possible get to know about them and use them.”
He asked Denbighshire businesses to engage with the campaign, use the hashtag to promote themselves and ask their customers to use it too.
Cllr Evans added: “We call on the people of Denbighshire to show community spirit by supporting this bid to safeguard the future of our high streets.
“Small businesses help create a thriving regional economy and provide vital jobs for local people.
“That’s why we really want people to share their positive experiences and boost our #LoveLiveLocal campaign by passing on the message about how much they love shopping locally.”
According to Rich, #LoveLiveLocal is one of the most innovative projects recently created by the council’s economic and development team.
He said: “Social media is a powerful marketing weapon in today’s highly competitive business world but the reality is that many small businesses and sole traders simply don’t have the time or the budgets to use it. They are so tied up with the day to day running of their businesses that spending several hours a day on social media is simply not a feasible proposition.
“The beauty of this idea is that it encourages customers to actively help do some marketing for them. If a customer loves the product they have just bought at their local gift shop or is delighted with the restaurant meal they had, then all we are asking is that they tell people about it.
“It takes a matter of moments to post a picture online and many people, especially younger generations, do this automatically every day with other subject matters.
“All we ask is for them to use the same technology, adding #LoveLiveLocal, to help their business friends and neighbours.”
Rich is a key player in two Denbighshire businesses, Recruit Packs, which he launched three years ago and Denbigh Army Surplus which was started by his parents, Mick and Jan Brady, 25 years ago.
Denbigh Army Surplus began when they started buying surplus stock from the Ministry of Defence to sell at local markets. Today the business has expanded into the e-commerce arena, selling 70 per cent of its stock online.
Recruit Packs, based on Colomendy Industrial Estate, developed from an idea Rich had to provide a hassle-free, one-stop shop for new recruits to the Armed Forces to find all the essential kit required to start their military careers. It now supplies individually tailored kit packs for army, air force and navy recruits all over the UK and is looking to move into the international market.
Rich is also a 2016 champion of Small Business Saturday, a grassroots national campaign to highlight small business success and further encourage consumers to shop local.
He said: “We’ve been lucky to have two businesses that are thriving, but I know from personal experience how hard my parents have worked to get to this stage and how much commitment it takes to grow businesses further. That’s why I am happy to do my bit to help other local businesses in our county, from start-ups to those who are just trying to maintain their position in the marketplace.
“It is so very sad that in many areas of Wales and Britain our high streets are changing radically. Independent businesses of all types are struggling to maintain a foothold in the face of large chains and convenience stores.
“With people leading such busy, fast paced lives these days, they often choose convenience over individuality. They’ll go to a big name supermarket where they can buy all they want in one hit, instead of shopping at a diverse array of different shops. But by doing this they are missing out on a golden opportunity to choose from the vast array of excellent foods and products that smaller independent shops offer.
“In Denbighshire we have an enviable variety of producers, skilled craftsmen, service providers and small manufacturers each offering something special. I would urge people to take the time to slow down a little, to discover and patronise these businesses.
“That’s where #LoveLiveLocal can help. It has the potential to open people’s eyes to the products and services to be found right on their doorsteps.”
Another supporter of the campaign is Denbighshire tourism ambassador, David Jones, chairman of the Clwydian Range Food Trail
He said: “This is a really positive campaign from the council. Local businesses need to support each other, build networks and promote each other. Engaging with social media is a great way to do this. It’s also important for communities to get behind their local businesses. We need deliver the message that buying locally is good for everyone in so many ways.”