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Is it an occasion to celebrate or commiserate?

This weekend sees the grand opening of two national chain stores in Batemans Bay. Very large chains that hold lots of buying power and, like Bunnings, have both negative and positives to offer. The positives are employment opportunities for our residents and the improvement of a quarter of the town that had become drab and uncared for and as such, impacted on the vibrancy of the otherwise thriving precinct. The building now occupied by the national chain store has received a coat of paint and it does look better. With 300 stores across Australia and New Zealand and a product portfolio of over 10,000 different items available in store each new mega chainstore in Batemans Bay can also be of considerable detriment to existing businesses. This very fact was strongly argued as a case not to have Bunnings in Batemans Bay. Ours is a changing world. With new residents moving into the Shire that have no history or allegiances to local businesses it is understandable that their buying options include mega stores and online purchasing. The consequences however are that we end up with only mega-stores if we don’t support our locals. For decades Moruya had an appliance store. A chain brand under franchise and locally owned. It did well for many years until the mega-stores arrived in Batemans Bay and Nowra. Unable to compete in price or stock range the shop closed. Now if you want an appliance in Moruya you have to travel. This week we see the closure of Smyths in Narooma, closing after 82 years. The closure of this shop will leave a substantial emptiness in the town precinct and a greater hole in the community cohesion that the shop represented. More and more of us are shopping on-line and in mega-stores and with every purchase we steal away the lifeblood of local businesses who have been there through thick and thin, employing our residents, sponsoring our sports groups and going the extra yards with good old fashioned service. Most importantly the profits from these local businesses stayed in the area. Is the opening of a mega-store an occasion to celebrate or commiserate? So this weekend we see a local radio station set up outside the new mega-stores doing a live on-location broadcast and the local paper carries a full page advertisement but are they actually celebrating the arrival of the store or is it purely hype/comment/promotion for cash. Inevitably as we "develop" more mega-stores will also be opened. No doubt they too will be lauded on the day of their grand opening but will anything be mentioned from then on in of the impact these stores have on our smaller traders. Mostly the general public are ignorant, indifferent and don’t give a sh*t because they have little desire to think about the consequences and domino effect of a mega-store arrival however there are many who choose not to attend these mega-stores and remain faithful to their local hardware, auto and fishing stores as a matter of principle.

#LeiParker #Opinion #Weekly

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