The economic downturn devastated many areas of Ireland, and one town in Tipperary which was particularly affected is urging people to support local businesses to help the area recover.
Four business owners based in Carrick-on-Suir have spoken about the struggles they face today in the presence of unfavourable conditions and unfair competition.
"If you do not have wage income in your town then your chances of being a successful business in the town are thwarted quite a lot," Pierce O'Loughlin of Carrick Print says.
The town is home to 6,000 people but, of these, he says approximately 2,200 people are on the live register, just 100 fewer than nearby Clonmel, a town of 18,000. He remembers Carrick as a vibrant town during his youth and everyone spent their wages locally.
Today, there are fewer people shopping on the main street. Instead they are drawn to large multinational supermarkets on the edges of the town.
Tucker O'Connell of Tucker's Fruit & Veg has been trading on the main street over 30 years. He finds "a big difference in the volume of people that shop here". He believes customers have moved from the town centre to larger supermarkets thanks to conveniences such as free parking.
John Farrell has been running Farrell's Supermarket for 40 years and his father ran the business for 30 years before him. Today, he caters to up to 600 customers a week by himself as he hasn't been able to afford to hire staff for the past decade, a big change from the 1970s when he and his father employed eight people.
Paul O'Sullivan of Splash & Chat believes the government has created an uneven playing field by catering for corporate companies and not indigenous businesses, and by imposing parking fees in towns.
All of the business owners interviewed named parking as an important aspect to their livelihoods, as multinational shops can offer free on-site parking while shops on the main street suffer from the high cost of on-street parking.
Paul O'Sullivan says the cost of parking is turning away potential customers, and Pierce O'Loughlin agrees, citing nearby Dungarvan, where parking is free after 4pm and for the first half hour prior to that time, as an example Carrick-On-Suir should follow. "It would be very, very helpful. It would encourage people to start coming in in the afternoon," he says.
If the playing field was leveled, these local business people are confident they would be more successful than the larger multinationals in Carrick-on-Suir.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved