Empty shops a worrying trend

Empty shops a worrying trend

Many local business owners and residents are worried with the concerning trend of empty shops in Lakes Entrance, which totalled 19 earlier this month.

Now, the Shell Service Station on Marine Parade is also closing, joining other business like Bella Vita Jewellers that are shutting their doors.

This is a great disappointment to many service station customers, particularly the elderly who enjoyed the driveway service.

“We are having to close down. We feel for our loyal customers, but the business is just not feasible anymore,” Barry Barley said.

“The rent and related expenses just makes it impossible, they keep creeping up.”

One business in Myer Street has negotiated to have their rent lowered in winter and raised in summer, showing an understanding of the seasonal takings in a town like Lakes Entrance which thrives on summer trade.

Karen Dettering, of Stitches n Things, said the town is not dying, just transitioning due to older owners retiring.

“Business is not bad in this town, people should take up the challenge and be innovative,” she said.

Karen entered into online business, but said that only accounts for 20 per cent of her trade.

“That is a very competitive market where people expect the lowest prices,” she said.

“Customers have to remember when they come into a shop they don’t just pay for the product. They get personal advice, follow up service and if they discover it’s not right they can bring it back or exchange. This is more difficult to do online.

“I am very positive about the outlook for shops in Lakes Entrance.

“Those prepared to get in there and work will do well; you need to have business sense and then you will succeed.”

Gillian Wyatt, of Riviera Ice Cream Parlour, moved his business to Myer Street.

“Our move was to a more spacious premises,” she said.

“We make all our ice cream on the premises and it was very cramped in the old shop. Everyone seems to have accepted the move and are happily coming to Myer Street.”

Destiny Clothing has also moved from the Esplanade to Myer Street.

“It has been awesome, heaps busier,” owner, Libby Sztynda, said.

“The public is definitely spending less. That is a sign of the financially tough times.”

Cherie Helmers noticed since the Latrobe Valley power industry was scaled back the flow-on effect on her business.

“We had been on the Esplanade for eight years and the foot traffic had declined over that time,” she said.

“Our income had decreased, but there was no decrease in our overheads.

“We are very happy with our move, it is more affordable and I feel the parking is easier for our customers.”

Some businesses are pooling together to rent properties.

The Flawless Beauty Room, Eve Brenchley Naturopath and Geoffrey Dennis Dentures are using the same premises for their businesses.

Lakes Entrance Action and Development Association president, Bruce Hurley, believes that Lakes Entrance has the potential to fill those empty shop spaces, but needs to take action to do so.

“Lakes Entrance came alive with thousands of visitors over Easter. Despite this empty shop spaces and closed businesses are never a good look in a town and Lakes has 25 in the central business district with several in prominent locations,” he said.

“This should not be the case in a town with the magnificent setting that Lakes Entrance enjoys.

“Businesses that have vacated the shops say there are a number of reasons including online shopping, above market rents, population and visitor numbers in Lakes Entrance not continuing to grow and the Bruthen bypass.

“We need to work together to realise Lakes Entrance’s potential.

“I would urge people to come along to the town meeting called by LEADA on May the 2nd at 7pm at the Mechanics Hall.”