Corowa residents are fearing the demise of their town’s business precinct as another Sanger Street retailer closes its doors today
Emotion was high as people came to say their goodbyes at Reilly’s Home Appliances yesterday after 28 years of trading.
Jan Mears hugged store manager Peter Mitchell with tears in her eyes, saying she would miss the store.
She and her husband, also Peter, said they had brought all their electrical appliances from the store since they moved to Corowa 16 years ago and only wished other locals had done the same.
“It’s very sad — Corowa is not as vibrant as it used to be,” Mrs Mears said.
“I don’t know what the answer is, people just keep buying online.”
Mr and Mrs Mears recounted Mr Mitchell would make house calls even when a customer had trouble with something as small as a problem with a remote.
After phoning him about needing a new fridge when they were on holidays, they returned to find one installed with a bottle of milk inside.
Another Corowa local Kris Brown said Reilly’s closure was heartbreaking.
“There’s too many empty shops down here.” she said.
Mr Mitchell, who had worked at the shop for 24 years, said he was told last Monday he no longer would have a job.
“It’s upsetting,” he said.
“Country service has gone in a way.”
Founding director Kevin Reilly, who lives in Queenland, said larger outlets were killing small business such as his.
“Country towns everywhere are absolutely collapsing,” he said.
“People in towns do not shop in the town — they won’t have any shops left at all.”
Mr Reilly, who has another Reilly’s Home Appliances store in Bendigo, said low market prices for goods meant his Corowa store had been increasingly hard to keep afloat over the past seven years.
“We’re selling products at Asian prices and we’re paying Australian wages,” he said.
“We tried to keep it going just for Corowa but we’ve drawn the line now, we’ve been losing too much money,” he said.
A survey in Sanger Street by The Border Mail found 13 empty shops, not including Reilly’s.