(Actually, I think this letter is an open call to all Novocastrians as well as business owners, because it’s going to take a village, and that’s exactly what we are).
Dear independent business owners, loyal patrons and everyone in between,
I hope you can hear me over what I’m sure is the constant sound of a jackhammer ringing in your ears on this weekday morning. I mean, I’m assuming you’re already juggling a headache after you had to navigate your way to your own shop/cafe front door this morning, let alone when you started to think about how your customers could find their way in. Maybe you, like the good folks at the Press Book House did, drew a mud map of just how to navigate the construction and perhaps posted it, with an accompanying apology, to your Facebook page. I know you’re worried. I know you shouldn’t have to be thanking anyone, especially the council (or whoever else is responsible in these dark times) for putting a pedestrian crossing out the front of your business so customers aren’t forced to walk 20 minutes out of their way just to grab their morning coffee. But yes, unfortunately, this is what it has come to and right now I’m begging you to please, hold on.
I know everyone is banging on about how great Newcastle is going to be once the construction is all done, and maybe we should all just shut up about it and get on with it but, I get it. The whole getting on with it thing is a little bit hard when your foot traffic has dropped 85% over the last 6 months. I’m not that good at maths but I’m guessing you’ve taken quite a beating financially, and have maybe started to say, lay off staff, or work 6 or even 7 days a week just to break even. I’m so sorry that there was no such contingency plan, and all you were presented with in terms of compensation with a tiny vinyl decal declaring (very softly) that you’re still open for business. I’m sorry that every single marketing gimmick has been centred around getting customers to come in town, only to have them unable to locate your shopfront door. All I am asking, is for you to please, hold on.
We’ve already lost too many good, actually no, great businesses already. The closure of Vinyl cafe was a devastating one. Vinyl was one of those establishments that will be missed by not just a handful of regular customers or the occasional tourist looking to grab a cup of joe. That venue, and the people associated with the venue (yes because that’s what an independent business is, there are people holding up those walls) will be missed by an entire community. For the sake of venues and establishments like Vinyl cafe (whose forced closure probably had something to do with the fact there was a crane parked in front of their storefront 24/7 and that every road around them was closed but hey I’m just riffin’ here) please, hold on.
Now. To the patrons, the Novocastrians, the die hard loyalists. I know it sucks. I know parking in town sucks. I know the construction workers watch your every move when you try to navigate the centre of town or even think about thinking about crossing the road. I know you’re probably thinking it’s easier just to ‘duck into’ Westfield (yeah, I know right) than it is to drive into town. I know the parking inspectors froth on watching people risking it for the biscuit but please, help our local and independent businesses hold on. Because we Novocastrians are tenacious, hard working, and bloody passionate. And lets be honest, if we could stick around and support the Knights through however many wooden spoons they’ve collected over the last few years, we can support small businesses through these tough times. It’s up to us now. So please, hold on.