Travelling workers hurting Collie retailers

Stuart McGuckinSouth Western Times
Deb Miller thinks more workers need to be based in Collie otherwise retailers will continue to see less money spent in town.
Camera IconDeb Miller thinks more workers need to be based in Collie otherwise retailers will continue to see less money spent in town. Credit: WA News, Michael Wilson

Established businesses in Collie have been some of the hardest hit by lower levels of discretionary spending in town as a result of increasing competition with retailers outside of town.

SportFirst Collie Owner Deb Miller said because a majority of workers in the town’s primary industries travelled from outside of town there was less money being spent at Collie shops.

“I stood outside my shop one day after closing time a few years ago and just watched people drive out of town after working,” she said.

“That was the start of it and then we really started noticing a downturn basically when Kmart opened in Eaton.”

Since the 24-hour store opened its doors in November 2015 Mrs Miller’s shop had only recorded seven months where its taking were better than the 12 months prior.

“Rents also keep going up while income has gone down,” she said.

“I haven’t paid myself in three years because our profit margin is zero.”

Crank’n Cycles ‘n Toys has also had to find ways to weather the downturn.

Owner Erik Mellegers said there had been a lot of effort put into streamlining the business in order to remain profitable, but it was not an issue unique to Collie.

“The uncertainty with the mines has some impact, but it’s had an impact in Eaton and an impact in Bunbury at least as much as it does here,” he said.

“We’re certainly keeping more of an eye on overheads, watching advertising costs, watching staff costs and not buying in as many random things.”

He said he made an effort to ensure coming into his store was an experience that shoppers would not get elsewhere.

“When people walk into our store it’s very relaxed,” he said.

“I’m a bit of a collector of different bike-related things and that helps us get across that we’re not just about stocking what is part of the cycling retail mould.”

Collie Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive officer Bec Woods said she understood business and industry are doing it tough.

“I believe everyone is doing what they believe is best to help Collie have some certainty around industry and jobs for the growth in the economy here,” she said.

“We understand business and industry are doing it tough out there, which is why we offer help to support them.”

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