Woman sits in her living room.

Just days before their market was due to take place in March, Handmade Markets founder Julie Nicholls turned the event virtual.

08 September 2020

Innovation and determination, combined with support from the local community, has enabled many of Canberra’s businesses to stay afloat during this challenging year.

Handmade Market was – up until this year – one of Canberra’s most popular markets specialising in Australian-made, handmade goods and attracting thousands of people each quarter. But COVID-19 put a stop to that – well, almost.

Just days before their market was due to take place in March, founder Julie Nicholls turned the event virtual.

“We had 29,000 customers in 12 hours. It was so close to a real market it's unbelievable,” Julie said.

“We’re completely self-sufficient and yet we're supporting 860 small businesses and for a lot of them our online market is all they have this year. So, it's a massive responsibility, but how awesome is that.”

During these challenging times, community support has been integral to the success of local businesses like Handmade.

“I'm really, really grateful that we started this here in Canberra,” Julie said.

“Stallholders all say that Canberran shoppers are the best in the country because they appreciate the work goes into the quality, and they're happy to pay for it.”

Two men standing behind boxes of fresh produce.

The team from Red Baron are equally as grateful to Canberrans for their unwavering support.

Daniel Roberts and Hayley and Peter Vidovich had only just opened their fledgling café in Symonston when disaster struck.

“Everyone was excited when we opened in December and then after the two-week [Christmas] break … I guess everything started going downhill from there. The bushfires, the smoke, the hail – that really affected all our surrounding buildings,” Hayley said.

“Probably at its worst, we lost about 90 per cent of revenue, particularly in those first few weeks.”

With a brand-new team and a host of local suppliers to support, Red Baron Pantry was born. The team began delivering fresh fruit, vegetable and meat boxes from local suppliers to homes around Canberra. It was this service that led to Red Baron’s involvement as a supplier for Canberra’s COVID-19 repatriation flights.

“There were some long days and long hours that needed to be put in to make it work, but when some of the staff came back with stories about … [how] the children were so excited to get the boxes, it definitely made our day,” Hayley said.

“Everyone still has a smile on their face, as hard as it’s been. We’re continuing to try and adapt where we can and keep everyone busy.

“One of our main goals is just not to lose momentum. So many businesses throughout Canberra and Australia have to try and adapt.”

We are all connected. When you choose to support one local business, you’re supporting the broader Canberra community.

For more, visit https://www.covid19.act.gov.au/chooselocalCBR

All Canberra

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