When Stephanie and Tony Mortel started a 'buy local' Facebook group last year, the membership sat at 26.
A rejig of the group this morning saw that figure soar to 300 in one hour - and it's still growing.
The Buy Local - Support Local Business in the Hunter Region has certainly resonated with the masses. "We had this idea a little while ago and this morning over breakfast, my husband Tony, eldest son Josh and I chatted about the confusion surrounding restrictions for individuals and businesses," said Stephanie of Mortels Sheepskin Factory, Thornton.
"We wanted to do something proactive for the community - open a space to support local people and businesses. People want to do the right thing but information is trickling out slowly, getting lost in social media opinions."
The private group was set up last year, with a Maitland focus. "We left the group dormant but this morning decided to include the Hunter and change the group to public. We noticed groups with lots of members surrounding buy Australian Made which is fabulous but it's important to broaden that support to local businesses," Stephanie said. "Our aim is to build awareness for people to 'Buy Local Support Local' to help keep small business alive during these crazy times.
"We were gutted at the prospect of standing down staff, possibly closing. While that will happen to many small businesses, recent Federal Government news about support packages has given us hope. Adjusting procedures to ensure compliance and keeping people safe add to our costs and with a big downturn in foot traffic this is not the year for profit but for survival."