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Newcastle businesses persevering through the city’s light rail works and residential construction flurry are going to extraordinary lengths to stay afloat in hope of a prosperous turnaround.
With Hunter Street periodically off limits this year and some areas of the city culled of parking, many operators have endured their toughest ever period in business.
Honeysuckle traders were last week sharing an emotional Facebook post calling on business operators feeling the light rail construction pinch to share their pain.
Not just the financial impact their businesses might have sustained during construction, but the mental or emotional toll it has taken.
“May I suggest that if you have a business, and you're struggling, that you let people know,” the post said.
“Be it family, friends, customers, the media. This struggle isn't because we're shit at what we do. It's because of outside influences, and a lack of planning and communication.
“Share this post on your personal wall. Share it on your business page if you're feeling brave enough ... Make a noise. Because if we don't, we're going to drown silently.”
Honeysuckle Ice Creamery & Gelato manager Karina Walker shared the post in the hope of making people aware that businesses, and individuals, are struggling.
Ms Walker has overseen the business since it opened in November. It began with about 14 staff, but is down to six with staff cut because of the downturn in trade.
The business was prepared for a seasonal low, but not to the extent which has been felt.
Initial operating hours of 11am to 11pm have been reduced to 11am-6pm. Ms Walker says hours would have scaled back during winter, but have been cut more because of the lack of people visiting the city centre.
She says the closure of the nearby carpark during light rail works has caused “horrific” consequences for the business. The 257 car spaces were lost when a development began in April.
“I don’t think they took into place when they thought about doing all this, how many people would be affected,” she said.
“It’s not just through businesses, they are people who’ve got real lives with real families and who are paying mortgages.
“We’re on the brink at the moment struggling to pay wages each week.”
Nearby Newy Burger Co will next week return to its vacated Hunter Street premises from the Honeysuckle store it has occupied for the past seven months.
The business leased both sites during that time but has managed to keep 40 staff employed.
The move cost “around $100K”, but the owners say “the reality is we would have lost a great deal more by staying”.
This article first appeared on www.theherald.com.au
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