Challenges and resources for post Covid recovery.
The first stage of a research project into spiritual and alternative businesses has just been completed, and is now available online, together with plans for the next stages in this work: exploring the contribution that these make to the economy, and developing ideas for a business research and support centre which can address their specific needs and interests.
Spiritual and alternative businesses can often be overlooked when it comes to their economic contribution. Often small scale, with a very select clientele or customer base, they may be dismissed as marginal or irrelevant to the mainstream economy. However, this study of such organisations and businesses in Glastonbury indicates that such businesses could potentially play a useful role in post Covid-19 recovery.
The research took place in Glastonbury, which admittedly, is an unusual country town, having become the locus, since the 1960’s, for a flourishing economy of shops, events, individual practitioners and B&B’s catering for people – including tourists – with ‘alternative’, ‘New Age’, environmental and spiritual interests.
However, this has given some interesting strengths to the town economy, with the high street so far avoided the ‘take over’ by chains and charity shops: nearly 90% of the shops are independently owned, and as yet there is little evidence of such businesses either closing down or having to shed large numbers of staff during the Covid-19 period. This is in spite of a dramatic drop in tourists in the early part of the summer. Several appear to have rapidly adapted their business model, increasing their online goods and services to cater for an increasingly global market.
The research study just published examines the challenges facing such businesses and organisations and suggests that the individuals founding and working in such enterprises are strongly value-driven, with their business offer developed to support their beliefs, values and lifestyle, rather than the other way around.
The majority of those interviewed became involved in their current enterprise later in life, enabling them to build on years of business, organisational and spiritual experience, and sometimes capital acquired elsewhere. This provides resilience and focus that can help individuals and their businesses to adapt rapidly to changing circumstances, with several now working closely together to generate new enterprises that can take advantage of central government funding being made available to support post Covid-19 recovery and new economic and environmental policies.
We look forward to the findings from the next stage of the research, exploring the contribution that they make to the economy of the town, and hope that lessons from this can be drawn out that might have implications for post Covid-19 recovery plans elsewhere.