By Rebecca Skilton
How to keep shoppers spending money in their small town has prompted the Lang Lang Business Group to think outside the square.
The survival of small towns depends on a revolving circle of community engagement.
That’s the notion that the Lang Lang Business Group has embraced to ensure its small town remains alive and thriving in a time of expansive growth across the Casey Cardinia Region.
Nestled within a short distance of Kooweerup, Pearcedale and Pakenham, the country town of Lang Lang can often be overlooked by shoppers seeking their weekly groceries or a birthday present for that special someone.
But as Lang Lang Business Group secretary and executive officer of the Lang Lang Community Bank, Laura McBride explained, with 19 stores available, locals have no need to go anywhere else in search of their shopping, and it’s the role of the town’s business group to keep that community-business engagement alive and well.
“The ideas that flow out of the business group meetings are things like how do we get people into Lang Lang?” Laura explained. “After the newsagents closed down everyone was saying: ‘Oh no, why?’ We need to put the ownership back on everyone and say, ‘That’s why we need to shop here, that’s why we need to shop local’. Every shop here is locally owned – It’s only going to go back into the community. It’s a revolving circle.”
While the business group has already implemented a number of initiatives to maintain a healthy business precinct in Lang Lang, the lead-up to Christmas 2016 saw the group introduce a new campaign; the first of its kind to be seen within the area: The Shop for 5 Campaign.
“The Shop for 5 Campaign concept was: how do we engage the locals to shop locally?” Laura explained. “How do we encourage local shopping as opposed to people going down to Kooweerup? Koowee has Woolworths so sometimes it can be more favourable to go down there, so basically it was what we could do in our town to entice people to stay here.”
The campaign was simple. When shoppers spent over $5 within a Lang Lang retailer, they received a stamp on a Shop for 5 loyalty card. Shoppers had to collect five stamps at five different retailers in order to fill their cards, which were then put into a draw at the local IGA. On 14 December, Laura drew our 25 winners who each received a $50 voucher to spend at any Lang Lang retailer.
“To get five stamps, if you went to the bakery to get your bread, the milkbar to get your milk, and then you went over and got your groceries at IGA, your feed from Larmax and get your hair done, it added up,” Laura said.
“We had 184 valid entries. It didn’t seem like a lot when we (saw) it, but it worked out to be 920 local individual shops of a minimum of $5 each. Over a month, that was $5,000 worth of shopping done locally.”
With the campaign completely funded by the Lang Lang Community Bank, the operation came at no cost for individual businesses. Every business approached participated, allowing invaluable insight into the workings of the Lang Lang community and the importance of local shopping.
“The core of all our vouchers were spent at IGA, but many were spent down at the newsagents before it closed up. Others were spent over at Auntie’s Place buying presents (or at) the pharmacy, so they were used at a variety of different places for a variety of different reasons,” Laura explained.
However, despite engaging just over 10 per cent of the Lang Lang community through the campaign, the efforts made by the business group are seen as a learning curve, with similar operations in the works for the Lang Lang community.
“People are coming to Lang Lang to be a part of what we’ve got here,” Laura said. “It’s our job to engage the business and people that are here to continue that country town feel and engage with it.”
“I think it’s a mission, there’s a lot more work to go,” Laura said. “But (the campaign) is a step in the right direction.”