A West Cork credit union has preempted the tightening of Covid-19 restrictions by offering members a discounted virtual shopping experience in local businesses.
Access Credit Union, which has 28,000 members in the region, has launched a 'Love Local' campaign in conjunction with Skibbereen Chamber of Commerce and business associations in Schull and Bandon, which will see businesses offer exclusive discounts and daily deals in the run-up to Christmas.
Businesses will also offer personalised virtual shopping via WhatsApp and Zoom for customers in a bid to beat lockdown during level 5.
While many local businesses do not have a shop online option, customers can also pick up the phone to arrange a virtual shopping experience with the store owners who will help them pick out gifts in real time.
Access Credit Union chief executive Elma Casey said they'd proudly supported local businesses for over 50 years.
“Since March we have been trying new ways to promote local businesses and groups with a series of videos and supports as a way to help raise people’s spirits and help keep people connected to their communities,” she said.
“The mission of our credit union is to be there for our members as a dependable and community-centric business."
She said people are faced with serious choices; do business locally or take it online to support a stranger who will do nothing for the local community.
"Our shops are the lifeblood of our town and without them the future is bleak so please think local, shop local, and love local," Ms Casey said.
Sandra Gallagher, chairperson of Skibbereen Chamber of Commerce, said the Love Local campaign is their way of fighting back.
"We all know that to keep local shops open we need to support them."
"Offering virtual shopping for our customers can give us the edge over the chain stores by allowing us to connect personally with them and help them find what they are looking for, be it for themselves or as a gift,” Ms Gallagher said.
“The people of Skibbereen have weathered many storms by looking out for each other. Our wish now is that we can remain in business for many years to come. Local people can make our wish come true,” she said.