Small business owners rattled by supermarket development
DESPITE six years' warning, several small businesses in Maclean have been caught by surprise now the new supermarket development is underway.
Two weeks ago, Maclean Hot Bread and Cake Kitchen owner Adrian Sonter watched the entire Centenary Drive carpark slowly disappear behind a large construction fence in preparation for the new Ritchie's IGA build.
"On that Sunday afternoon I was here in the shop and all the blokes with the fencing gear showed up, told us to get our cars out and up it went," he said.
Mr Sonter had hoped the sudden decline in sales in the days following was simply due to the school holidays.
"I was hoping that once the students returned, it would go back to normal. Unfortunately, that hasn't been the case," he said.
"My wholesale customers in town have dropped away, but wholesale customers out at Townsend shop have picked up. What does that tell you?"
Mr Sonter, along with other local shops including the Cottage Takeaway Back Shop, C'est La Vie Francaise and Maclean Variety Meats have confirmed with The Daily Examiner about a decline in sales ever since the fence went up.
"The first Saturday it went up, there was a noticeable difference," Ta'Chele owner Michelle Gallagher said.
"I haven't had a quiet Saturday in a long time. I don't know what will happen when the markets are on."
It's clear small business owners in Maclean have been rattled by this major CBD development, with understandable concerns about the future of their livelihoods and their employees.
However, few have yet to devise a strategy to counteract the loss of what has previously been reliable trade.
"Everybody had gone to sleep," Maclean Chamber of Commerce president Peter Gordon said in reference to IGA's inevitable entrance into the riverside arena.
"Now that it's finally here, it seems like the end of the world, but it's not. It's a matter of looking at the bigger picture.
"It might not seem ideal at the moment, but shopkeepers really are getting a good deal from this build."
Mr Gordon said the IGA will keep money flowing through the town.
"There's a lot of investment going into the IGA and it will keep a lot of people in town due to the convenience, not to mention open up more employment opportunities," he said.
Mr Gordon said the next month Clarence Valley Council will commence development of Maclean waterfront.
"You'll soon be able to walk straight out onto the river," he said.
"Investments like these are going to draw more people to town not turn them away."
Mr Gordon said given what's involved over the next seven months, fencing off the entire car park was more than appropriate.
"The entire car park has to be ripped up, resurfaced, new drainage has to go in, along with services to power and water. It's a big task," Mr Gordon said.
"We've got three car parks now. The new one on Argyle Street, the car park on the southern end, and we've got the car park behind the library. There are still plenty of spots. The problem is no one wants to walk."
In the meantime, it will still be business as usual for Maclean shops, trades and services, despite the recent economic downturn.
Will the Ritchie's IGA be good for the local economy of Maclean?
This poll ended on 06 August 2018.
Yes. The benefits of having the supermarket in the CBD will flow onto other nearby businesses.
No. The multi-national invader will rip the heart out of Maclean.
It won't have any significant impact either way.
This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.
Michelle Gallagher - TA'CHELE
"TALK in the town is some businesses are down in trade.
"The first Saturday the fence went up, it went quiet. I haven't had a quiet Saturday in a long time. I don't know what will happen when the Maclean markets are on.
"It's sad for the town in a way. I don't know if we needed two supermarkets. Perhaps if it went up near Botero or in Gulmarrad, it might have been better.
"I hope to get through. I'm not real keen to go there and be negative because it doesn't achieve anything.
"We've got to try to be positive about it. It's not going anywhere, so we have to work together and soldier on."
John Allan - MACLEAN VARIETY MEATS
"WE KNOCKED off work on Saturday and came back on Monday to find the fence had gone up.
"The deal's done, we can't undo that, but we've only got two little carparks now and it can't feed the whole town.
"We're rentees, owners of buildings. We pay wages to staff but if trade continues to be down, it's going to become a problem.
"We're all worried about missing out on holiday trade because that's the cream to get you through. If this fence is up until next Easter, it means we miss out on all the holiday trade for Christmas and that will hurt us massively."
Staff member - LITTLE FRENCH SHOP
"THE last two weeks since the fence went up, business has been slower.
"A couple of elderly people came into the shop last week after the fence was up. One lady was crying because she can't reverse park or walk very far due to having a wheelie walker.
"They haven't really thought of the elderly and about how they're going to get around during construction.
"Specifically the older ladies find it difficult to reverse park, they could drive straight through in the back carpark. Before, they could walk straight through the arcade."