A local forced to close the doors of her cafe this week has warned that other businesses will follow unless attitudes change.
Christy Dellaney has closed Cafe CRAVE 41 on Ormerod St for a number of reasons, but foremost has been what she sees as a lack of support from the local community.
Ms Dellaney said she and other hospitality businesses had tried to offer what customers had said they wanted, including Saturday and Sunday trading, but the resulting trade was just not worth it.
And she said while not having enough attractions to draw tourists to the town was an issue, the main problem was closer to home.
“I thought Naracoorte always prided itself on supporting local,” she said. “That hasn’t been my experience.
“Local people themselves aren’t supporting weekend trading, and if they’re not supporting it, you can’t expect (businesses) to stay open. It just doesn’t feel like there’s enough local support for businesses like mine.”
Ms Dellaney said it would be great if more tourists came to the town and that would certainly encourage more businesses to try more weekend trading, but the main problem was that locals weren’t dining out in their own town.
I thought Naracoorte always prided itself on supporting local. That hasn’t been my experience.Christy Dellaney
“Like anyone I love going out for coffee and breakfast, especially when you’re away, it's more of a luxury thing for some and I get that, too.
“But if local cafes are opening on weekends and no one is going out, it costs money as soon as you open the door, with power, putting food in the fridge, staff.
“I did all Sundays this winter and it was never worth it. If I was paying staff and not just doing it myself, I would be way, way in the red.”
Ms Dellaney said her shop went “nuts” for customers when she first opened it 10 months ago, and lately many people said how sad they were to see it close, but in between there just wasn't enough support.
“I got 5000 views on my closing down post (on Facebook),” she said. “If I had that much support while I was open, we wouldn’t be here talking about this.”
Ms Dellaney also felt Naracoorte Lucindale Council and bodies like Naracoorte Business and Tourism Association could do more to promote the town and its attractions to draw more visitors.
She said hospitality businesses like hers were only providing a service once the visitor arrived – they weren't the drawcard.
“People don’t come to a town to find food,” she said. “You need other things there to attract them there.
“I think the caves is good but there could be more out there, go karts or something like that to provide a greater variety of entertainment. And then when we’ve got something good, spend some money to promote it.”
BUSINESS. Business and tourism association president Sandy Talbot agreed that more businesses being open on weekends would be a positive, and it was an issue his group planned to put some time into.
“Personally I do (wish more were open on weekends), I think anything to encourage business, particularly on weekends, is good.”
Mr Talbot said he was with a group of visitors who visited the caves on the Sunday of the last long weekend when they experienced the issue first hand.
“It was 4pm and we couldn’t get a coffee anywhere, it was a bit embarassing to be honest,” he said. “Someone said the shops aren’t open on a Sunday, they must be doing really well (on the other days).”
We have got some unique things here, and if you can get a cup of coffee on a Sunday to go with it, even betterSandy Talbot
Mr Talbot said it wasn’t anyone’s fault that Naracoorte was so quiet on a Sunday, but any change probably had to be driven by the businesses themselves.
“Every business is so different,” he said. “McDonald’s trades differently to the cafe down the road – they’ve all got their own issues and challenges.
“KALV and Co is open from 7am seven days a week – it’s a big call and I hope the town supports them.
“It’s up to the provider how they do it. Some can afford to do it and some can’t – you can’t just say to all of them ‘You will open’.”
Mr Talbot said all he and the association could do is encourage businesses to open for weekend trading, if they can.
“We have got some unique things here, and if you can get a cup of coffee on a Sunday to go with it, even better.”
In opening the new KALV and Co cafe and wine bar last week, owners Anna Wakefield and Vera Silvester said they hoped to help address the perception that nothing was open on weekends.
“People are always saying the town needs somewhere other than a pub where you can have a wine, and you can have a coffee seven days a week,” Anna said.
“I've been involved with the Caves Connection committee for the past 12 months and the number of tourists going through the park and not coming to Naracoorte is a real shame.
“Instead of seeing what Coonawarra has to offer because they know they can go to a cafe in Penola, see what else is in Naracoorte. We want to bring more business to town.”
DEBATE: The debate has been sparked by a Naracoorte Herald story which revealed that tourism spending in Naracoorte had slumped badly in the five-year period from 2010-11.
Read that story here
Many social media comments followed that story, suggesting that reasons for the slump were the lack of RV/caravan parking in town, shortage of quality accommodation, not enough attractions and businesses not being open consistently on weekends.
Another cause for concern is the number of empty shops in Naracoorte’s central business area, particularly the main street, Smith Street.
That will be the focus of another story in the Herald soon.
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