I write in regard to the article ‘Tough It Out’ (The Standard, October 13).
Sadly, this sentiment is too little, too late for so many of our local businesses who have been forced to close due to the greed of landlords and real estate agents in Warrnambool.
Overpricing the value of CBD stores, exploiting the hard work and initiative of local business operators — that’s how we found ourselves in this present situation with many local businesses struggling to make ends meet, closed or up for sale.
I have seen businesses try to cope with having their rent double, on the advice of a real estate agent who knows nothing of the expense of running a store or how that impacts financially, and landlords who would rather have a business close than decrease the rent.
Many of the empty buildings around the CBD have been in the same family for generations and, thanks to the REIV (Real Estate Institute of Victoria), business owners have to cover WCC rates, water bills, building insurance as well as any legal fees. So what you have is an owner who has no expense on a building except for repairs. (If you are lucky enough to have an owner who will do repairs!)
Retail is no longer the cash cow it once was. Small retailers cannot compete with the internet and chain stores on price, yet offer better service and product advice.
How many people take their children to the local shoes store to get specialist fitting for school shoes? How many people buy a cheap DVD player and throw it away when it breaks rather than spending money on a quality item that will last for years?
“Make Your Mark On Your City Heart” consulted with the public more than three years ago. Where is the implementation on any of the issues addressed in this project? Customers in the CBD have to contend with parking meters, lack of parking, unsafe pedestrian access and lack of public toilets.
The city council seems content to watch as businesses go under and, to add insult to injury, the present plans for Wonderful Warrnambool Christmas take custom away from local traders by running markets on the Civic Green, and the prize of a $500 Coles Myer Gift card does not promote the idea of supporting our local businesses.
Our main street will become a faded memory of what local business once was. When did we start calling it the “Golden Mile”? A gratuitous term coined by a real estate agent, no doubt.
Heidi Wisniewski, Liebig Street, Warrnambool