Supporting local businesses this Christmas has been made easier with the launch of a brand new gift card exclusive to the Moree Plains.
The Love Local Moree gift card was launched on Wednesday, and with close to 100 participating stores, it's the perfect gift not only for family and friends, but for local retailers as well.
"We're just asking everyone to put a Love Local gift card at the top of their Christmas wish list this year," Moree Plains Shire Council's acting economic development and grants manager Susannah Pearse said.
"One of the great benefits of this is that they can only be spent in the Moree Plains Shire, so a Love Local gift card, we really think, gives twice. Not only does it give to the recipient but it also gives to the shop owner who is employing local people and supporting our local economy.
"We really hope this is a great success and everyone can get on board."
Moree mayor Katrina Humphries said council is proud to be able to bring this initiative to the shire.
"I think it's just lovely for people to go and be able to choose their Christmas present locally, rather than give money where you can spend anywhere," she said.
"This is keeping money in town but giving people a choice. This is about boutique businesses, our beautiful shops in town, perhaps getting a normal taking this Christmas.
"With Christmas quickly approaching, Love Local Moree cards are a way for family and friends from afar to give a gift that gives many times over. There is not a lot of spare funds around for our local families; a Love Local Moree Card allows them to enjoy a little Christmas cheer but also supports our local businesses.
"I encourage local residents and their friends and families living outside of the shire to purchase a Love Local Moree card this Christmas and support the local businesses that have supported our community for years."
Cr Humphries, a business owner herself, said our local retailers need all the help they can get and more as this unprecedented drought is taking a major toll on businesses and their families, as well as the community at large.
"It's very, very tough," she said.
"I've been in business in Moree for 36 years now and have never seen it so tough. The only reason I still have my doors open is because we're a family-owned business. If I was paying commercial rent, I'd be gone. We've had a little bit of natural attrition, but have cut back hours, so we close earlier. I'm really lucky I've got a good team. But there'd be other businesses that'd be worse off."
Cr Humphries encouraged local businesses to try to ride out these tough times, with the promise of a brighter future ahead.
"Hang in there, we have a great future with the Inland Rail coming," she said.
"We don't know when it will rain but we do know the Inland Rail is coming."
The Love Local Moree gift cards can be used at close to 100 stores across the Moree Plains Shire, with participating businesses in Moree, Mungindi and Pallamallawa.
Gift recipients will be able to spend their money on a wide variety of goods and services from the shire including adult and children's fashion and footwear, gifts and homewares, art and framing, hair and beauty, cafe and dining, jewellery, fuel and groceries, car servicing and detailing, health and leisure, kitchenware, agriculture supplies, and many more.
The cards can be purchased at about 30 'load-up stores', or online www.whyleavetown.com/purchase-online.
In-store customers can select any amount to be loaded onto their cards from $10 up to $1,000, while online customers can purchase cards in quantities of $25, $50, $100 and $200. Cards can then be used across multiple participating stores until the value of the card reaches zero.
All cards have a three-year expiry period, activated from the date of purchase, providing shoppers with plenty of time to enjoy the love brought by a Love Local Moree Card.
It's also not too late for more businesses to jump on board. There is no cost to businesses to participate, with council funding the administrative costs to launch the initiative so local participating businesses will directly financially benefit from purchases through the Love Local Moree card.
The full list of the participating stores can be found here: www.mpsc.nsw.gov.au/index.php/hot-topics/docman/news-and-topics/1471-love-local-gift-card-redeemable-at-over-90-businesses/file