BOOMING business this summer has local shop proprietors beaming.
Rick Bromley, who with wife Sharron runs Bromleys on Main Cafe in the centre of Foster, spoke for many when he said he has experienced his biggest trading days ever this summer.
“Come next month we will have been here ten years,” said Rick. “Back in November 2007 when the Great Victorian Bike Ride had a stopover in Foster, we had our biggest trading day. It was phenomenal! But then on the Monday before Christmas – December 22 – that record was smashed, and then it was smashed again the next day. It’s been a massive summer!”
Even since Christmas, said Rick, patronage at Bromleys has been consistently steady. “We’re enjoying our best holiday season. We’re seeing tourists from everywhere – from all around the world but also from Australia. It seems Australians have finally discovered South Gippsland and they’re stopping off in Foster on their way to that major attraction – the Prom.”
Long queues at the checkouts are testament to how busy the local supermarkets have been. Summer is always the busiest season, but this year even more so for the Foodworks supermarket in Foster. Perhaps because of the four-day holiday break for many people over Christmas, followed by another long break over the turn of the year, perhaps because of the generally good weather, trading figures are well up on last year’s, said a supermarket spokesperson. He said that the Meeniyan IGA supermarket, which is also run by Abingdon Market Pty Ltd, has had its best week of trading ever.
Up at Fish Creek, general store proprietor Carolyn Fryer remarked happily, “We’ve been run off our feet!” “The Hub is doing well also,” she added, referring to her adjoining business, which offers clothes, accessories and reiki.
Clearly, it is not just food outlets which are booming. Jan Bull, proprietor of Foster’s Little Bookshop, said her store is always busy in the lead-up to Christmas, “but this time the post-Christmas period has proved to be just as busy, which is great!”
Deb Harris, who runs Main Street Revelations, selling “new and gently used quality goods”, said that this summer has been on par with the summer of 2012, which was a bumper year for most local traders. “There are lots of holidaymakers around, who are apparently happy to shop,” she commented. “It’s wonderful to see the tourists. It’s because of them Foster can afford such a wide range of businesses, including two supermarkets. I believe most locals understand this and know to shop early or late if they want to get a car parking space!”
Some of the visitors, no doubt, are day trippers from Melbourne and elsewhere, but many are staying in the district. Kate Fooke, who runs on-line accommodation business Promaccom, said her business has been very busy since the start of the summer holiday season. She added: “We’re always chock-a-block in the week from Boxing Day to January 2, but even since then our accommodation – we offer a range across South Gippsland from beach houses and apartments to bed-and-breakfast, country cottages and caravan parks – has been solidly booked. For some reason this year we seem to be seeing more last-minute bookings by people looking at short breaks.”
Kate advised that if people were quick, they could be lucky enough to get a holiday booking for the second half of January, but most places, she said, are booked out over the Australia Day weekend.