EMPTY: Vacant shopfronts in Maclean's River St CBD.
EMPTY: Vacant shopfronts in Maclean's River St CBD. Jarrard Potter

Maclean's River St running dry

AS EMPTY shopfronts begin to grow in Maclean's River St CBD, Chamber of Commerce president Peter Gordon believes people need a reason to travel into town to increase foot traffic.

Currently there are six empty spaces in the retail centre of Maclean, and while some stores, such as Sew Excited, have changed location from one part of town to another, some spaces such as the vacant block that used to be home to Boulevard Cafe, have remained vacant for more than a decade.


Mr Gordon said Maclean needs an attraction if the retail sector is to draw people through their stores.

"There needs to be something in town like the boardwalk, like a revamped McLachlan Park, to get people in the town," he said. "If we can make the whole area attractive, it will really help build the town back up and I think that's what is needed.

"We need to amke the most of the natural beauty of the town. Maclean was was river town and always has been a river town, so to see the river from the main street would be perfect and I think rejuvenate the whole town."

After 14 years trading in Maclean, Big River Bait and Tackle was forced to close their doors for the last time earlier this month. Owner Cherryl Kneller said over the past decade consumer habits had changed and foot traffic into the store had declined, which put too much pressure on the store to survive.

"You've got many layers of things that have changed in my industry, and it's a very changed industry from what it was when we first started," Mrs Kneller said.

"It's just time to move on. Modern day retail is very different and it's very direct marketed to the consumer. I think there's been a lot of people that have been in my industry for the same length of time as us leave in the last couple of years because we just don't feel we fit in modern day fishing tackle with the retail side of things."

Mrs Kneller said Maclean's retail sector faced significant challenges in the years to come to make the most of the opportunities from infrastructure works such as the Pacific Hwy upgrade and new Harwood Bridge.

"There's pockets of retail that does well from the road workers, but the leisure industry isn't one of them," he said.

"It seems to be a very much a two-speed economy and unfortunately the increase in local real estate rents has displaced people, they've moved to other areas or are looking at different options of where they can live, which seems to be common when you get a large infrastructure project in an area."