(Thought I'd just pop this on the blog, it was published this week in the Northern Constitution)

If there's one thing that was driven home to me at the Open Coffee Limavady meeting last week (22nd March) it was this: Limavady provides some of the most positive and exciting niche businesses I've seen. An eclectic gathering of Bed and Breakfast owners, games designers, songwriters, bank managers, festival organisers, printing businesses, architects, reflexology and holistic therapies, kids clubs, project managers, t-shirt designers, a music therapist and a jam maker. Those are the ones I did speak to.

Seems there is plenty to talk about too. I saw sales done, collaborations discussed, referrals and lots of supportive advice given to each other.

Open Coffee meetings are about one thing, community. A community that supports each other in our goals and aspirations. A community that knows what products and services are available locally. A community that's proud to be who it really is, diverse and full of character. Business owners were willing to travel to meet new customers and contacts too, some of the attendees travelled from Ballymoney and Londonderry just to expand their network and introduce themselves.

While it's easy to get swamped with all the mainstream media attention of retail closures and reduced spending, spare a thought for those getting on with opening up and selling, inventing new ways to get customers in and making the local marketplace an inviting place to go.

I'd like to extend my thanks to all who attended and also helped get the word out, plus a huge thank you to Julie Brolly for keeping everyone topped up with coffee and tea during the evening. There will be another Open Coffee towards the end of May so look out for the local press for further details.

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