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SPONSORED: Think local first to help ensure a stronger Scotland

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Saeed Anwar has run his town centre florists shop for 15 years and knows all too well the positive difference shoppers can make by thinking local first.

“It’s so important for people to shop local. It protects local jobs – and when you support local businesses the money is spent in the community,” he says.

That’s why the Alloa businessman is supporting the Scotland Loves Local campaign, the national drive to encourage shoppers to think local first wherever they can.

Saaed Anwar

“We’re proud to be part of the community,” adds Saeed, of Flowers By Arrangement, who has adapted his business to meet all Scottish Government guidelines surrounding Covid-19 to ensure safe shopping, just like many others across the country.

“The support of the community is so important for us as a small business to flourish so that we’re there for them when they need us.”

The Scotland Loves Local campaign, spearheaded by Scotland’s Towns Partnership (STP) with the support of the Scottish Government, is part of the nation’s financial fightback from the consequences of the coronavirus crisis, urging people to shop safely and back businesses in their communities to help them to both survive now and thrive in the future.

Its leaders hope that by embracing the spirit of localism and community pride witnessed throughout the pandemic, town centres can play an even more pivotal part in peoples’ lives in a stronger Scotland.

The people and staff behind businesses on high streets across the country continue to dedicatedly go above and beyond to help their customers through the challenges of Covid-19.

Many, of course, have been part of their communities for decades, if not generations.

Businesswoman Amy Miller

Amy Miller has run Miller of Melrose Butchers, on the town’s High Street, for 28 years and believes everyone benefits when people support local shops and services.

She says: “The support of the community to local businesses is essential – you feel wanted by the community. Everyone benefits because you can extend your product and quality.

“I’ve been here such a long time, seeing such a change in life, living, eating and the way people buy products. To have a successful business in the town makes me proud.”

Malcolm Wilson

In nearby Market Square, Malcolm Wilson’s family have run Abbey Fine Wines and Coffee Shop for 26 years.

He says, for businesses like his and others in places like Melrose, their work simply is not just about their livelihood, but engaging with the community, explaining: “Small businesses really rely on locals to keep these businesses alive. Support from the community means everything to us.”

Recent polling commissioned by STP found that 56% of people will always shop on their local high street rather than going further afield, whenever they can do so. Almost nine in 10 agreed it’s vital that people support businesses on their high streets.

Phil Prentice, STP’s chief officer, says the impact of thinking local first – from shopping to meals with friends, when safe to do so – is positive for everyone.

“Every pound spent locally is re-spent six times in the area’s economy, so the knock-on effect is significant,” he says. “Thinking local first protects jobs, is better for the environment and helps make our communities better places to live.”

For more information on the Scotland Loves Local campaign, go to the website here and follow #ScotlandLovesLocal on social media.