'Save our shops, please': Councillor's heartfelt plea

A BUNDABERG councillor has made a heartfelt plea to residents, asking them to support traders by shopping locally.

Councillor Helen Blackburn said she had loved going "downtown" her entire life.

Cherishing the opportunity to see something different or interesting each time she shopped locally, Cr Blackburn said visiting the CBD made stopping to have a chat and catch up with people inevitable.

"What has made me love it more than the shopping centres is the shop owners, providing great customer service, a variety of products, quality and value for money," she wrote in a letter to the editor this week.

The Division 4 councillor, who also owns a business in the CBD, spoke directly to residents in her letter, saying it was "increasingly evident ... that you click to buy and don't use your local shops to wander and support".

Cr Helen Blackburn in Targo Street.
Cr Helen Blackburn in Targo Street. Brian Cassidy

"Well it's time to change that. We can be like all the other towns that say our CBD and local trade died and we don't know why, or we can support our local traders. It's really that simple," she said.

Cr Blackburn pointed to the council's efforts to assist traders through the #loveBundy campaign and buy local tag.

"Traders are going out of their way to try to entice you to shop with them or even just give them a chance to show you what they've got," she said.

"Multi-national companies care about profits, not people, and small business owners care about trading another day and making sure their customers come back. They're local and damn proud of it."

Cr Blackburn said saving local shops wasn't just about the traders themselves but also the people entering stores.

"Did you know that Chippindall's employs over 100 staff between its two locations? A wholly locally owned and operated business," she asked.

Mayor Jack Dempsey.
Mayor Jack Dempsey. Contributed

"Or that Avenell Brothers has been operating for over 120 years? Do you know Sue at Nathans? Or Anne from Shoe Fringe? Or Wendy at Moo & Me or Chris from Koodos? Mitch from Indulge? Linda from Bundaberg Health Foods? The list goes on and on.

"These shops are our heartbeat and our barometer to the health of our local economy. Without these people giving up their superannuation (most don't pay it to themselves), and any sick days, weekends and sometimes even holidays we wouldn't have them here."

Cr Blackburn implored locals to "act before it's too late" and said the region needed the small shops as much as they needed the region's support.

"I honestly do not want to see another shop close, but I alone cannot keep them open (there are only so many shoes, clothes and magazines a girl can have)," she said.

"You need to act now. Get downtown, park a long way away ... and walk up and down the streets we take for granted - not just Bourbong St either; also Targo, Woongarra and Barolin Sts - and maybe buy a thing or two to help keep our entrepreneurs here and open.

"Let them have your support and your dollars. Local business is the lifeblood of a community so let's not lose it."

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