Small retailers shut shop

Charlie De Maio from Men of Style on Main Street. 111176_04

By Mitchell Clarke

A struggling Pakenham retailer has been forced to shut his doors to shoppers after recording a 70 percent decrease in sales, thanks to the Covid-19 outbreak.

Despite not receiving calls to close from the government just yet, Main Street business Men of Style made the difficult decision to officially close to the public on Tuesday 24 March.

Owner/operator Charlie De Maio said the decrease in sales was likely going to get worse, as further measures for social isolation were implemented.

“Even though our sector has not been officially forced to shut down in which I think it’s inevitable that it will be, I made the call early as the rapid downturn made it pointless to stay open,” Mr De Maio said.

“It’s obviously very, very quiet due to the rapid decline of shoppers in the area as a result of social distancing measures.”

Fortunately for Mr De Maio, as owner operator, he doesn’t have the added stress of having to reduce staff hours or let casual staff go, like some other small businesses.

“Hopefully we can just ride this out and be here for our customers at the end of all this,” he said.

“The community needs to stick together and support each other in order to survive this pandemic.”

Meanwhile, a couple of days later Lazy Frog Gifts also closed their doors on Thursday 26 March.

“Unfortunately we closed our doors… it was time. I am hoping the government will enforce this really soon, we just need to get this thing done,” owner Sharlene Steffan said.

“We are taking things day by day. I feel that the unknown and uncertainty is the hardest part at the moment.”

While it’s uncertain how long the pandemic will last, one thing that’s certain is the support these small businesses will need when they’re back up and running.

“These businesses now need local support more than ever in order to survive. We all have rent, stock and overheads to pay but that’s difficult with a decline in sales,” Mr De Maio said.

“In a nut shell if the community don’t support local businesses there will be a huge amount of businesses unfortunately closing down,” Ms Steffan added.

“Small business owners are feeling very scared and worried about the road ahead. We feel extremely lucky with the support we currently have from our locals and we just ask they continue to do so.

“Please, please don’t forget about us, it can be the smallest sale but every little bit counts.”

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