NEW OPPORTUNITIES: Isabel Perdriau and Anna Puglisi outside the FSG shop on River St, Ballina, which stocks items by local artists and designers. FSG is a not-for-profit organisation that offers a wide range of services.
NEW OPPORTUNITIES: Isabel Perdriau and Anna Puglisi outside the FSG shop on River St, Ballina, which stocks items by local artists and designers. FSG is a not-for-profit organisation that offers a wide range of services. Ross Kendall

Small businesses share their stories

MORE than 30 small businesses are now selling their wares on the main retail strip of Ballina after not-for-profit organisation FSG Australia turned its River St premises into a retail outlet.

The new shop front offers an opportunity for local artists and designers to showcase their products without the expense and worry of running their own store, FSG shop supervisor Anna Puglisi said.

Aerial gardens, art, designer soft furnishings and custom-made wooden furniture are all available in the shop, along with a line of environmentally-friendly health, beauty and cleaning products.

"We are delighted that the local community has really embraced this new initiative," Ms Puglisi said.

"There are many great stories to share, such as the young lady completing her HSC who is selling some of her artwork, and another who has created a colouring book in order to save funds so that she can volunteer in an orphanage in Uganda next year."

FSG Australia is a community organisation offering a wide range of services in the fields of disability, mental health, aged care, family and children's services.

All profits from the shop are reinvested into providing social services, and it only stocks merchandise that fits within its ethos, Freedom, Social Justice and Growth.

FSG has been operating on the Northern Rivers since 2014 and has facilities in Lismore, Ballina and Byron Bay.

People can still go into the River St store to access the full range of FSG services, as there is still a consultancy room on site, FSG regional manager, Isabel Perdriau, said.

FSG can help with anything from elderly people needing to fix a television through to helping to find emergency accommodation or mental health services for people in need.

"If people have identified a gap in services and they need help, we will work with them to get that need met," Ms Perdriau said.

"We never say 'no' to anyone."

They also offer a Dreamweaver service that helps people set, plan and achieve life goals.

"It is all about helping people achieve what they would like to do in their life," Ms Perdriau said.

FSG is also developing a new youth-oriented site in Ballina, called B-space.

More than 1000 local young people entered a competition to help design the space, and many will get valuable experience helping to re-fit the site.

It is expected to have an official opening in early 2016.



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