‘Empty shops nothing new’: High street pushes on
SHOP owners in Caloundra's high street say while they've "never worked harder", it's just business as usual in the CBD, despite several empty storefronts.
This month, Division 2 candidate for Sunshine Coast Council Shane Scriggins questioned the $13.6 million Bulcock St revitalisation project's value for money as more than 20 empty shops still line the street.
The Daily visited the seaside CBD and spoke with traders who have stood the test of time. While there are a number of large, empty shopfronts, most business owners say the street is still thriving.
For Graeme Bowden, who has owned The Bookshop at Caloundra for 30 years, the empty shops are nothing new.
"We've been here for over 30 years. I've never known it to be easy, the book industry's hard. But we seem to be able to make a living," he said.
Mr Bowden said while some businesses only lasted a few years, there were several stores along Bulcock St that had been successfully operating for decades.
"I'm not worried about all the empty shops in Caloundra. It goes up and down. That's the nature of the beast," he said.
"The main thing we can do is make sure that we're doing whatever we can within our businesses to retain our customers and attract new ones."
Mr Bowden said that while it was "absolutely horrific" for business during the street renovation, every issue he brought up was dealt with appropriately.
Division 2 councillor and Downtown Caloundra Taskforce chairman Tim Dwyer said retail sectors across Australia were doing it tough.
"Business owners are true champions of our community, many taking risks to create jobs and opportunities for others, and they know that council is there to support them by making the streets inviting, accessible, attractive to businesses and generate vibrancy," Cr Dwyer said.
He said the Bulcock St upgrade and the $6.85 million Caloundra Events Centre redevelopment had already generated "attractiveness and vibrancy" to the CBD.
Cr Dwyer said the Caloundra Centre Master Plan would boost investment confidence and establish the town as a leading business, employment and community services hub.
Cr Dwyer said the master plan sought to capitalise on opportunities to redevelop the CBD. The modernised city centre is expected to cater for about 10,500 jobs, 7800 dwellings and 14,500 people by 2041.