FIVE YEARS ON: Customers respond to greater options
PROVING that you should never give up no matter what the odds, Clint Heathorn and Amanda Hillier from The Little Green Frog are standing by North Bundaberg and their ability to always think outside the box is bringing the customers back in droves.
Their outlook was wavered slightly in 2013 when the Northway Plaza was completed flooded in 2013 and the scene like much of Bundaberg was catastrophic.
Clint said still today he remembers the stench and the thick mud and feeling the heartbreak of seeing a business you'd put your life savings into a complete mess.
"Moving forward from the obvious mud, sweat and tears, we were unlucky because the centre didn't open for four months in which we missed both Valentine's Day and Mother's Day, our two busiest trading times of the year,” he said.
"The true positives that come from the flood though were that those who stayed on, pulled together and created a greater sense of community and we were proud to be part of that.
"We were focused on re-establishing our livelihood but also showing that we were a real part of North Bundaberg and we weren't going to give up on all those that had been through so much.”
After having spent their life savings opening The Little Green Frog in October the previous year and not being insured for flood, it was touch-and-go whether Clint and Amanda would be able to reopen.
But Amanda said they scraped together every cent they could find doing all manner of odd jobs to get buy and managed to open again.
"It was a huge gamble and probably would have been easier to walk away, but with the support of the local community we managed, to claw back our losses bit by bit,” she said.
"We showed our community that we were there for them and that we were serious about providing a great, unique business that was not just there to make up the numbers.
"Without support from our local community after the floods, we would not be still here today.”
Both Clint and Amanda agree that the best thing they did both as a couple and as a business was to focus on the positives.
As hard as it was for them to start from scratch, they saw rebuilding as an opportunity to reopen as a far stronger and well-rounded business than before.
"We learned from our first three months of trade prior to the flood and integrated our existing plant range with a much larger selection of unique gift lines and we've never looked back.
"We underwent a huge transformation in April last year to focus more on floristry and now employ two florists and this side of the business is growing every day.”
This success continued well throughout the Christmas period with the normal store trading well and a new range of customers finding out about their extensive range with their pop up store at Hinkler Central.
"We believe that you must always be looking for ways to grow your business.
"If you're not moving forward, sooner or later you'll start going backwards.
"There would not be a week go by that we don't look at ways of improving The Little Green Frog; whether it's reaching or attracting new customers, identifying new revenue possibilities, providing new services or creating new or different lines to sell, we never stop pushing ourselves and our business.”