THE cancellation of the annual Handmade Markets in Canberra has seen significant profit losses for MIA producers and small businesses, prompting Destination Riverina Murray to call upon community members to lend a helping hand.
Businesses like Zecca Handmade Italian and Morella Grove have excess stock to shift after the cancellation of the Canberra markets, most of which is perishable.
These businesses have already been brought to their knees by bushfires and floods, leading Destination Riverina Murray GM Richie Robinson to plead to the public for their assistance.
"It is more important now than ever before to support local operators who have endured drought, bushfire and now COVID-19," Mr Robinson explained.
"I urge people to shop at local farmers markets, retail outlets and suppliers to support them through these tough times."
With local producers and businesses now unable to 'take the region to the people' in Canberra, they have becoming increasingly more reliant on community sales.
The loss of their selling platform to a brand new audience has plunged these workplaces into further chaos, with Louise Freckleton of Highfield Farm and Woodland being one of the many operators currently feeling the pinch.
"After losing a large portion of our regenerative eco farm to the fires of 2020, preceded by three years of drought, farm life has been tough," Ms Freckleton said.
"The coronavirus has just made it worse. We were looking forward to exhibiting at the Handmade Markets to shift some of our stock - over 30 kilograms of lamb chorizo to be exact.
"We would love people to pick up the phone and place an order with us."
The Handmade Markets usually attract 20,000 people per market, all of whom are greeted by 'The Riverina Alley.'
The Riverina Alley is an aisle of food, drink and producers from the MIA who showcase our region to the Canberrans.
Without that esteemed alley, businesses from the Snowy Valleys, Coolamon, Junee, Griffith, Narrandera and Wagga Wagga are down in the dumps.
"While this is disappointing, we will be back at Handmade Markets again to continue to promote the Riverina region and our operators," Mr Robinson said.
Now, it is up to the kind hearts of MIA community members to pick up the slack left by the cancellation of the Canberra markets.
In an effort to support local business during these tough times, Destination Riverina Murray are calling upon anyone and everyone to shop local amid the coronavirus crisis.
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