The Drawing Board owner Alexa Russell outside the boutique Blackall business.
The Drawing Board owner Alexa Russell outside the boutique Blackall business.

How sales have boomed for business in 'quiet' CQ town

WHEN Blackall farmer Alexa Russell isn't working on the family property, she runs a small boutique fashion store in the Central Queensland town.

The 28-year-old business owner has been one of many across the country to directly benefit from the social media campaign, Buy from the Bush.

"I thought it was a great idea and one of the best drought initiatives that's been about," Ms Russell said.

"It's been unreal for businesses in rural communities and so many people have benefited."

Ms Russell said that from her own experience at her store, The Drawing Board, as well as friends who have businesses in other regional towns, the initiative has generated increased online sales and almost doubled the amount of social media followers.

"So many people are now aware of businesses that they didn't know existed before," she said.

"So many people have said they want to buy from these shops just because it's a small business in a town that is drought effected."

A boutique store at Blackall, The Drawing Board, offers fresh coffee as well as ladies and children clothing, gifts and homewares.
A boutique store at Blackall, The Drawing Board, offers fresh coffee as well as ladies and children clothing, gifts and homewares.

As well as offering coffee, The Drawing Board sells a selection of ladies and children's fashion as well as accessories, gifts and homewares.

Although she has only owned the business since the beginning of 2019, going off past figures, Ms Russell said pre-Christmas sales had increased significantly compared to the year before.

"I was even getting messages from people asking if sold out items were being restocked, and a lot of items were going interstate to bigger cities, not just rural towns."

Ms Russell said Blackall has been very quiet and getting smaller and smaller, although it still carried a strong sense of community.

She said the drought has had a "massive effect" on people financially and mentally, but despite the trying times, they continued to back each other.

"The community has just been a great support since I took over and it's great to have our regulars who come in for coffee," Ms Russell said.

"It's such a friendly community. We love our customers."

The Drawing Board owner Alexa Russell.
The Drawing Board owner Alexa Russell.

Despite the initial buzz of the campaign passing, she hopes the online business continues to thrive throughout the year.

"Christmas is over so you can't be disappointed if it does go quiet for a month but a lot of people do their shopping online so hopefully it should still help with online sales," she said.

The social media movement was created in October last year to showcase beautiful items available to buy from rural communities facing drought.

It encouraged consumers in city areas to do some of their Christmas shopping in the bush to help support small rural businesses and to continue into the new year.

Other Central Queensland businesses part of the initiative are Wattle and Hide (Clermont), Passenger (Barcaldine) and Country Allure (Blackwater).


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