I have a question, for all the Novocastrians reading this piece. Where were you during the Supercar weekend, and what was behind your decision to do so? Did you stay and at least attempt to embrace all the hullaballoo that was the Supercars? Were you stuck at work? Or did you, like most people I know, decide to flee the city and get the hell out of town. Now that the dust has finally settled, and the smell of burnt rubber has left my nostrils, it’s time for some #realtalk about the real impact of the Supercars, particularly in relation to small businesses around the race precinct.
I was walking back from work in the mall on the Friday morning, and I swear I could see tumbleweeds making their way across the path. Given that the mall generally isn’t a very busy place (but wait till they gentrify it you say) but Supercar Friday was particularly quiet. Especially since local businesses were promised the chance to make back the revenue they lost due to the countless (and annoying) construction schedule. “Think of the foot traffic” officials said proudly, all the tourists with money to burn and time to burn it. To that… I call bullshit.
Now there is a bit of a confusion as to who exactly was at fault, but what was happening on that fateful Friday, is the redirection of pedestrian foot traffic away from the mall, despite there being a race precinct entry point at the very beginning. Something to do with bottlenecking apparently. But I call bullshit on that as well. Whatever it was, and whoever was at fault, the bottom line is, the mall was quieter than ever. Because businesses didn’t even have the normal influx of dedicated regulars buying their flowers, books, the paper, coffee etc. Owners and operators were warning their regulars to stay away over the supercar period, not that they needed to be told twice.
In fact the Friday was so unbelievably quiet, many businesses made the executive decision to shut their doors for the entire weekend. It seemed it wasn’t even worth the hassle to navigate the crowds, the noise, the construction, the traffic redirection to not even be in a position to turn a great trade for the day, or at least even be on par with what they would usually make over a weekend. As the day dragged on, more and more small businesses took to social media to inform customers they would be closing over the weekend. Dare I even mention the fact that Oma’s Kitchen closed back in what June was it? Followed by Good Brother, Momos, Press Book House and Persian Place, on the Saturday of the race. I remember someone saying this was meant to be the biggest trading weekend of the year, didn’t quite pan out that way I guess.
I am honestly trying to be positive about the Supercars, I really am. But when small businesses are forced to close their doors, what are we left with? A billion dollar race track (not the exact figure, I write words not maths), half a park, hearing damage, being crowned the Air BnB capital of the world and oh yeah, small businesses haemorrhaging money because punters want pies, chips and overpriced mid strength beer. Until next year folks!