Cobden businesses vow to 'bounce back' after a fires affect trade in the town

Team effort: Traders, cafe owners Renee Sartori and Mandy Knuckley and newsagent Andrew McConachy experienced a downturn in business in the weeks following the St Patrick's Day fires. They hope things will improve as smoke from the peat fires clears and residents return home. Pictures: Rob Gunstone
Team effort: Traders, cafe owners Renee Sartori and Mandy Knuckley and newsagent Andrew McConachy experienced a downturn in business in the weeks following the St Patrick's Day fires. They hope things will improve as smoke from the peat fires clears and residents return home. Pictures: Rob Gunstone

Cobden traders are bouncing back after the devastating St Patrick’s Day fires virtually shut down the town.

Open: The Butcher's Cut owner Marlin Walsh wants to encourage shoppers back to Cobden.

Open: The Butcher's Cut owner Marlin Walsh wants to encourage shoppers back to Cobden.

A month after the blazes, traders are hoping the worst is behind them and the term ‘business as usual’ can be used.

Butchers Cut owner Marlin Walsh said Cobden had resembled a ghost town in the weeks following the fires but as schools resumed on Monday and smoke from peat fires cleared, business would improve.

Sarenity Cafe owner Renee Sartori said takeaway foods were the first thing to go from people’s budget.

They said there was also some confusion over whether the town was operating after some residents, school children and hospital patients, were forced to leave or were relocated to other facilities due to peat smoke health concerns. 

Shoppers started to return after last Thursday’s announcement the air quality had improved.

Cobden Business Network convener Kelvin White said business operators were “all in it together” and looked out for each other in times of adversity.

“The town itself isn’t looking for any sympathy in any way, shape or form,” Mr White said. “It’s not the nature of the town or its people. It’s always been a can-do town and that will continue.”

They want to assure shoppers the town’s open for business.

Newsagent owner Andrew McConachy said: “Now it’s all clear to come back we want to get back to normal,” Mr McConachy said.  

Ms Sartori said as long as people continued to shop in the town the business community would thrive. 

Cobden Pharmacy retail manager Jenny Inglis said while some businesses had suffered, shop owners had worked hard to look out for each other and those affected. “It’s been really positive in some ways,” Mrs Inglis said. “Everyone’s tried to pull together and support one another and the shops have done the same and we’ll bounce back.”