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Officecentre: An example of how we can grow our local economy
For years rural communities have struggled to retain essential services and vibrant towns. Local communities have fought to keep hospitals, post offices, banks, and local businesses from leaving but it has been a relentless and often perceived as a fruitless struggle. Many buy local campaigns have come and gone with minimal success as the big corporate retailers with their huge advertising budgets attract custom away from local small business. Studies have shown that for every $100 spent in a corporate chain less than $20 goes back into the local economy compared to $68 from a local business. Central government policies and spending patterns are not any better taking much more than they return.
However, as rural communities become better connected to broadband services the tyranny of distance is being partially removed providing real opportunities to fight back. As online commerce grows there is nothing stopping rural business competing on an equal footing in this new space helping to reverse the current wealth leakage.
Rural communities have much less overhead costs than their big city counterparts and can compete. One recent Kaitaia success story is the locally owned www.officecentre.co.nz. The brain child of local entrepreneurs Ian and Anne Walker who own the local stationery shop, Marston Moor, they have increased their potential market from a population of 6000 people living in Kaitaia to the total population of New Zealand.
“As volume sales have increased so has our purchasing power”, says Ian Walker. “We can now compete with the biggest corporates in the business!”
Operating since March 2014 the site has enjoyed rapid double digit growth selling product throughout the country from Te Hapua to Invercargill. Customers range from home consumers to large corporate and government entities. With ever improving courier services freighting stock from Kaitaia to Invercargill is equally as good as anywhere else in the country. Customers don’t care where their purchase originates as long as it is what they want, at the right price, it arrives on time, and the transaction is secure.
Officecentre has provided the added benefit of allowing local consumers a wider product range that previously has only been available in large urban centres.
Rural communities need to seize this digital opportunity with both hands.