Business bounces back in Sheridan Street

Main street business owners Renee Lindley and Bec Nicholls are celebrating a return to brighter days for business after COVID.

Gundagai’s main street is back to its bustling best as local business owners embrace the end of border closures and lockdowns and look towards a much brighter future.

With business bearing a big brunt of the effects of the pandemic, Gundagai retailers are here to say it’ll take more than a global pandemic to beat them, with store relocations, businesses opening up and businesses expanding, post-COVID.

The return of the travelling public is also clear to see, and while the last two years have been a challenge, local business owners are now breathing a collective sigh of relief and celebrating a return to business normal.

“It would’ve been so easy to say, ‘We’re exhausted, we’ve been through COVID, and we’re over this, but instead we’ve gone the other way, we’ve gone bigger,” said Fig & Co owner Bec Nicholls, who adapted and changed locations during the tail end of the last lockdown.

Instead of closing her doors, Bec purchased a building for her store across the street from her previous location, renovated it, and is welcoming customers next door to the re-located The Coffee Pedaler.

“I opened up in the middle of the pandemic, so I don’t really know what it’s like not to be operating in the pandemic but moving across the street has made a huge difference to me. Having Wren and The Coffee Pedaler so close, those things have helped.

“It’s so nice not to see closed windows; the main street is so inviting as people drive in.”

Renee Lindley from Wren Store + Styling now neighbours Fig & Co after also relocating her business, post-COVID.

During COVID lockdowns, Renee took her business online. When the borders reopened, so did Wren Store + Styling, in a bigger location, one block down.

“The travellers have been flocking back to Gundagai and they are return travellers,” Renee said.

“The number of people who’ve gone up the street to my old location and asked Sue [Mills, who has expanded her business Daisy’s Décor into Renee’s former premises] where I am is incredible.”

Cootamundra-Gundagai Regional Council-appointed community delegate Abb McAlister said it’s wonderful to see the return of a booming business centre for Gundagai and puts the successful comeback down to the resilience and tenacity of business owners.

“Business is booming post-COVID and it’s fantastic to see,” he said.

“Some people have relocated their businesses to larger premises and where they’ve left, those spaces have been taken up by other businesses.

“We’ve got a new communications business that’s just opened up, which is going to be something people really rely on now especially where a lot of people are coming out here from the cities, wanting to get away from the congestive lifestyle; we have to make sure they’re connected. All the office spaces at Remote Control are full and there’s barely an empty shop window in the main street now.

“I think a lot of it goes back to the resilience of the businesspeople. A lot of people with positive attitudes. There is life for businesses after COVID, and businesses all over Gundagai are showing that.”

The Hume Highway on Gundagai’s doorstep has always been a big asset for local business, with Mr McAlister saying add in the new main street, and you’ve got a recipe for success.

“Once again lots of people are travelling, they’re travelling within Australia because of COVID and it’s drawing them into our beautiful main street and it’s really boosting business,” he said.

“It’s unbelievable, the increase in travellers. You can come up the street at 7.30 in the morning and there’s 20 people sitting outside The Coffee Pedaler and you won’t know one of them. And that’s not allowing for the people inside.

“In the bush, there’s always a day after yesterday. Yesterday we had COVID, today is the day we’ve got to get on with things and forget about yesterday. That’s such a big thing about country people; they’re always positive, they’re hard workers and they live with the right attitude. If there’s an issue, there’s always better times around the corner.” 

Looking to the future, Mr McAlister believes it’s only going to get better for Gundagai and other regional areas as city people seek out a more peaceful and relaxed lifestyle. 

“They talk about declining populations in the bush; there’s no way known our population is declining,” he said. 

“There’s so much to offer out here and people want to get out of that congestive city lifestyle.

“A big bonus for us is our location. We’re an hour and a half to Canberra, three and a half hours to the centre of Sydney, we’ve got a river, we’re close to the snowfields, 50 minutes away from a bigger centre in Wagga with specialist medical services, we’ve got the lot.

“It’s heaven. Heaven before heaven.”

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