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Supporting local business

THE Eastern Shore community is being urged to support local businesses who have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.

James Ashmore, from Ashmores Southern Fish Market in Mornington, said his business had been forced to look at new ways to trade.

“We’ve been open since 2004 and 90 per cent of our business is from high-end restaurants and hotels,” he said.

“When COVID-19 hit Tasmania, and with many restaurants and hotels out of the picture, we had to work fast to reach new markets.”

Mr Ashmore said the first move was to open an online shop with free delivery to all areas during specified times.

“We needed to go to the market directly and an online shop helped us do that,” he said.

“We also expanded our product range to non-seafood products, such as coffee, eggs, meat packs and even hand sanitiser.

“By keeping our doors open and changing our offering, we have received an incredible amount of local support.

“It’s been overwhelming, and I’d like to very much thank our customers.”

Mr Ashmore said State and Federal Government programs had also helped his business through the crisis.

“The JobKeeper program meant we were able to keep on more staff than we otherwise would have,” he said.

“The Tasmanian Government’s hardship grant helped with our cashflow during this time.”

Mr Ashmore said the crisis had changed how the business will operate moving forward.

“We’ve noticed a change in buying patterns – people are wanting to buy local and wanting a story behind the products,” he said.

“As our wholesale customers come back online, our goal is to build a larger shop with a greater range of seafood.”

With restrictions easing, Liberal Member for Franklin Jacquie Petrusma said local support would be a key factor in the economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Running a business, particularly a small business, is challenging at the best of times,” she said.

“It is so vitally important that we buy local at this time – we have so many fantastic local producers with high quality products and they need our support.”

Ms Petrusma said there was a new website to help people buy locally put together by Brand Tasmania and the Tasmanian Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

“If you are after a particular product or service, I urge you to first look at the ‘Buy Something Tasmanian’ website and to see if there is a provider in your local area that you can support,” she said.

For more information, visit www.buysomethingtasmanian.com.au.

Caption: From left, Ashmore Food owner James Ashmore and Liberal Member for Franklin Jacquie Petrusma.