Business Battles on With Plenty of Local Support
Businesses in the Woollahra Local Government Area are navigating the ongoing challenges of the pandemic with the support of Council and their local community.
Woollahra Council is providing ongoing support to small businesses through a relief package valued at over $5 million, which has been extended in some areas until the end of the year. The council waived all outdoor and footpath dining fees in March and now plans to extend that waiver until December. They are about to announce ‘placemaking’ grants of up to $7,500 for business owners and organisations that will help promote the vitality of local commercial centres.
Woollahra Mayor Susan Wynne feels that supporting small businesses through the COVID-19 pandemic is a critical focus for the council.
“Many small business owners live and work in our local area and are an important part of our community,” Mayor Wynne said.
“We are firmly focused on providing financial stability for the Woollahra community during these challenging times, and I’m proud that we have been able to help ease the economic impact of COVID through extensive relief measures.”
Beyond council support, businesses in Woollahra have been quick off the mark to adapt to the new realities of COVID-19 lockdowns. Kristie MacDonald, owner of the popular Rose Bay fashion store For Artists Only, said that creative thinking and a dependable community has helped her shop navigate lockdowns.
“It’s been a hard, demotivating and tough couple of months, but I’ve got a great team and loyal clientele and we had our online service running prior to lockdown, so we started adapting and marking stock down so we could move it pretty quickly,” she told The Beast.
Ms MacDonald introduced ‘cheap Tuesday’ to keep clients engaged with her business.
“We came up with an idea that every Tuesday we targeted a particular brand or group and just slashed it, so that day we had a really good cash flow that kept us going for the week and people loved cheap Tuesday, it worked really well,” Ms MacDonald said.
Many other local businesses have adapted their services to meet the needs of the new COVID reality. Elvira Drubetsky of Bellevue Tailor saw her work dwindle in the face of lockdowns until she started making face masks to give to the community.
“We’ve made evening gowns and men’s suits, but we’ve never made face masks before!” Ms Drubetsky told The Beast.
“Now I’m here from 4am making masks every day, but I’m so happy because people will call and say how grateful they are for the masks.”
Bellevue Tailor has been open since 1994 and has made approximately 3,000 masks since the pandemic began.
“I thought I needed to do something to keep us going, but also to help the community,” Ms Dubretsky said.
“They are like family after 26 years.”
With the prospect of returning lockdown restrictions, businesses are continuing to feel the pressure.
“People are uncertain again just this week. Our sales have dropped dramatically, no one is coming into the store,” Ms MacDonald told The Beast.
However, Mayor Wynne is confident that support within the community is the best way forward to get through whatever the future may hold.
“We all have a role to play in helping local businesses to get through this, and I encourage everyone to continue to lend their own support in any way they can,” Mayor Wynne said.