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Here’s how you can help local businesses ravaged by bushfires

Influential Australian figure Turia Pitt set up Instagram account @spendwiththem to showcase local businesses affected by the Australian bushfires. (Source: Instagram @spendwiththem, @vinteloper)

Economic activity in some communities razed by Australia’s devastating bushfires has been estimated to be at zero – but some Australians have found a way to help dozens of local businesses that have taken a huge hit from the fires.

Yesterday, Australian mining engineer, athlete and burns survivor Turia Pitt set up Instagram account @spendwiththem in order to “help rebuild towns and businesses affected by fire”.

The account – run by Pitt and her marketing and content manager Grace McBride – has already showcased eight local businesses, including Adelaide Hills winery Vinteloper, Bega Valley-based micro gin distillery Stoney Creek Farm Distillery, and surf gear and swimwear label Akwa Surf.

Local businesses such as a boutique fashion store, a gourmet mushroom grower and an ethical clothing label and a specialty coffee roaster also feature on the platform.

(Source: Yahoo Finance screenshot/Instagram @spendwiththem)

In a post, Pitt encouraged people to spend money “with the people and the communities who really, truly need it. They need you. We need you,” she wrote.

“This is a way to put money directly in the pockets of the people and communities who need it the most, and need it NOW.

“Long after the threat is over and the choppers stop flying overhead. Long after summer ends and the wail of sirens ceases in the streets.

“Help them rebuild. Make them feel heard. Spend with them.”

Some of the businesses have a personal connection with Pitt, who for instance worked at Coyote Boutique when she was 15 years old.

Akwa Surf organised a surfing contest as a fundraiser to help Pitt get back on her feet, she said.

“They help the community in so many ways. This is typically the busiest time of year for Akwa, and right now Milton is a ghost town,” Pitt wrote.

‘Go with empty eskies’

Pitt isn’t the first to encourage Australians to shop with bushfire-affected local businesses: Australian adventurer Tegan Weber posted a Facebook post that went on to become viral, picked up by Kindness Factory – a global movement that hopes to inspire more acts of kindness – that was then shared many more times.

Weber encouraged people to “do just one simple thing”: visit the fire-ravaged communities with the intention to spend money that will go back into the local economy.

“Go with empty skies, empty cars and low fuel,” said Weber.

“Stay in their hotels, buy from their shops, camp at their camp grounds, buy from their shops, buy their fuel, buy bread and milk.”

Weber’s post was shared by Australian entrepreneur and book publisher Lisa Messenger, who also encouraged people to travel around regional Australia.

“We’re going to need to buckle in for the long haul,” she said in a post on Instagram.

“Whilst its GREAT we’re actioning specific things RIGHT NOW, in the coming weeks when the fires calm down (Please GOD), plan a trip around regional Australia.

“Meet the locals, spend your money and continue to support.”

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