Jury still out on impact of Woolies opening

WHILE some Mullumbimby businesses have noticed a drop in revenue over the past month, the jury is still out on whether this has more to do with winter weather than Woolworths opening its doors.
The Byron Shire News took to the streets last week to find out what impact the multinational has had so far on the local economy, with the feedback ranging from “business as usual” to “a substantial drop in takings”.
Shops like Mullumbimby Country Bakehouse and Santos have yet to notice a difference in patronage, citing loyal customers and local produce for their continuing trade.
“We’ve been pretty lucky so far as our usual customers still seem to be coming in,” said baker Kyle Jones.
However, for veteran butcher Vince Devine, from Devine Quality Meats, a 30 per cent drop in sales during the past month hasn’t gone unnoticed.
“We felt the change straight away,” said Vince, who has been servicing the local community for 37 years.
“Sure, we have our busy days but, overall, the change has definitely been noticeable.” Paul Medeiros from Edens Landing Fruit & Vegetables said that while he has heard of a number of businesses talk of slow takings, he believes it is too early to speculate on the long-term effects of the multinational’s presence in the small town.
“There’s always that initial adjustment period, but whether that trends towards the positive or negative remains to be seen,” he said.
“We were quite vocal in educating our customers about the effects Woolworths have on small towns, but there comes a time when you have to hand over the reins for people to choose where they shop.”
Paul agrees that ensuring the viability of a small community requires a symbiotic relationship between locals and business owners.
“While we are very lucky to have a loyal clientele, we’ve also worked hard to support the growing industry by sourcing as much as we can from local growers,” he said.
For Deborah Lilley, spokesperson for Mullum Community Action Network, Woolworths’ impact on the town is yet to be decided.
“As a frequenter of the farmers market, I can say it’s as busy and vibrant as ever,” she said.
“That being said, I am noticing Mullum shops are now advertising in the local press and on Bay FM when they didn’t before.
“Many people I know will never cross their portals, myself included, believing that shopping locally nourishes us socially and spiritually.
“We know we are supporting the livelihoods of our community.”

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