How social media is helping Blue Mountains businesses survive coronavirus pandemic

It's an idea that came all the way from Kalamazoo in the United States but a new Facebook group is helping businesses in the Springwood area survive the coronavirus pandemic.

A Stitch Above owner Emma Lamont in Springwood. She is helping run the Facebook group, Springwood Village online shopping Group.

A Stitch Above owner Emma Lamont in Springwood. She is helping run the Facebook group, Springwood Village online shopping Group.

Springwood Chamber of Commerce president Lesley Lewis created the "Springwood Village online shopping Group" on March 22 after her sister shared a page, "Kalamazoo Menu", which was promoting cafes and restaurants in the Michigan city during the pandemic.

The Springwood group had attracted almost 1000 members by Tuesday, March 31, all sharing information about how to support local businesses at a time when people are being forced to socially isolate.

"The purpose of the group is two-fold: to focus support on small businesses within our chamber district to assist them to keep trading through the crisis if at all possible," said Ms Lewis. "Our district covers the suburbs of Springwood, Faulconbridge, Winmalee, Hawkesbury Heights and Valley Heights."

The group's second purpose is even more uplifting.

"We also want support our local, collective community with good news stories wherever possible as an antidote to what we all know is a very serious global situation," she said. "The group's rules are very important to set the tone - no 'anti-anything' will be tolerated, especially if directed toward small businesses in our local area doing it tough right now."

Ms Lewis has been supported running the group by other Chamber of Commerce members, especially Emma Lamont of A Stitch Above.

"Our committee are all volunteers facing huge adjustments within their own businesses. We want the group to be largely self-generating by members," said Ms Lewis.

The early success of the group may even lead to a spin-off just for cafes and restaurants, as well as a cafes and restaurants directory.

"We are asking for patience while we put this together as quickly as we can. If any of our chamber members would like to help with this, please reach out and let me know or any committee member," said Ms Lewis.

The online response to the Facebook group has been very positive, with people commenting in "glowing terms" about the community connections it is fostering.

Even the citizens of Kalamazoo are impressed.

"I made sure I sent a post to the 'Kalamazoo Menu' admins letting them know that they had another spin off down-under," said Ms Lewis. "Their response was: 'That is so cool, you made my day!'."