Dear Mainstreet Committee,

I have felt the need to reach out to you as our governing body about the current restrictions which are crippling our industry.

As one of many at ‘the front line’ I find it devasting that the essence of our working community, small business, has been brought to its knees. By putting ‘pen to paper’ I find myself as would others, in a situation which in my 40 years in marketing and 25+ years in main streets, where I do not have an answer.

The businesses in my centres look to me as a means of support, and I feel helpless that I, for the first time in my career, feel utterly useless in being able to provide them with anything other than a kind word, some encouragement and the will for them to keep going. This is not a problem that I, and others in my position can sit down and fix or work on, so as to be able to provide a viable solution for them. It is something that we have not experienced before and have no answers to!

These people are physically, mentally and spiritually exhausted. We, are physically, mentally and spiritually exhausted!! Our work currently centres on short term planning and even that is risky. As much as we want to plan activities to entice people into our precincts, we cannot, as we do not know what the reality will be the next day or the day after that. We are tired of the waiting in the hopes that things will get better, and a lot of us carry a very heavy load when it comes to the care of our traders.

My heart breaks to see them lose faith, a faith that was so strong in the outset when they first opened their stores, a happiness that they were running their own business, and a strength and belief they put into making that business work. The light in many has gone, I have seen businesses close – businesses that have been in the game for many years just shut their doors. I have seen broken traders and I have personally seen first hand and have heard how this situation has become too much bear that living is no longer an option…I never want to see or hear of this happening to anyone else again in our industry.

What more can we say to our businesses? What encouragement do we give them? Is there a light at the end of the tunnel? How do we continue to support them? It is hard not to care so much for their wellbeing. At the end of the day these people are the backbone of what we are all about. They are fundamentally the ‘heart’ of their communities.

As you may read this I would think that you may be picking up on not only my frustration but a level of anger I feel about the way all this has been handled by the ‘powers to be’. On the one hand I understand the government’s position in trying to keep people safe but if they are looking to eradicate something that cannot be eradicated before they allow us to live life, then I feel it be a different issue. I would hate to see people die, but surely by looking at overseas models that keep people working and the economy flowing could be a lesson for us all here!

What can you do for us??? One voice is not enough, but, we have many voices in our many centres with our many businesses. Can we not start a conversation with the people in ‘power’, working together to come up with alternative solutions moving forward for our businesses.

Can we put forward our representatives on government committees to provide insight, a voice allowing the industry to be heard and problem solve?

The current situation is not sustainable, yes we need to keep people safe, but we need people to also run their businesses, pay their bills and provide for their families.

I am certainly not suggesting an ‘uprising’ although I feel it inside….I am suggesting that something needs to change, to shift so we can try to salvage what we can from what is left after each lock down.

Could this be a conversation starter or an appeal to whomever it needs to be…or, is there nothing that can be done, but sit and watch more and more businesses go to the wall!

Thank you for taking the time to read this.

Penelope Jamieson has been in the retail industry for over 45 years. 27 years ago Meandah P/L Retail Marketing Services a small, boutique management and marketing company – big on service – was born out of a need to help small business. As the principal of the business, she has dedicated this part of her life to, and had the pleasure of working with, many of Melbourne’s well know main streets and retail precincts. Her approach to the service she provides is based on the belief that – “collectively we can make a difference”. 

We are one, but we are many – Our Voice!
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