By Jackson Russell
A Wandong small business owner is hoping to bring the community together by offering other small businesses a retail space while their exposure is limited by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sack-it Custom Made owner Bek Barron has started the Wandong Collective, with a store in Wandong’s shopping strip set to open on September 1.
Ms Barron said the intention of her new venture was to target small businesses in the area and bring them together.
“Being in a regional area, it’s completely separate from metropolitan Melbourne so it’s all about bringing the community together, supporting local businesses and providing the community with really unique items and gifts,” she said.
Several small businesses are already on board, offering macrame crafts, candles, beauty products and soaps.
“I’m still really actively trying to engage with businesses, particularly in Mitchell Shire as a whole, to get them in the shop so they can get more engagement with the public,” Ms Barron said.
Ms Barron sells a range of handmade goods through her website and Facebook page, including gift boxes showcasing small businesses’ wares, clutches, scrunchies, personalised Santa sacks and, more recently, reusable face masks.
Ms Barron said she had made more than 1200 face masks, with 75 per cent being sold within the local community.
“It’s something I was quite passionate about, getting them out to the community for a reasonable price,” she said.
“I joined with the pharmacy and sold them for 50 per cent of my normal wholesale rate so they could get them out to the community for a reasonable price. It’s really cool going down to the post office and seeing everyone in your masks.
“It’s made me feel really proud of my business and what I’ve been able to achieve with my business by giving back to the community.”
The first steps towards creating the Wandong Collective started about a month ago, but has really ramped up in the past week as Ms Barron was able to start creating the space and encourage businesses on board.
Ms Barron said the community response to the Wandong Collective had been ‘incredible’.
“As a community, Wandong is quite small so a lot of people know each other and are really willing to support businesses in the local area,” she said.
“There’s really nothing else that is collectively trying to engage the community and businesses and provide that cohesiveness and engagement.
“We really want it to be something dynamic depending on what the community wants and what does well, we really want to be able to support as many businesses as we can in our local area.”
Wandong Collective is located at 3272 Epping-Kilmore Road, next door to Wandong Pharmacy, and opens on September 1.