Broome Advertiser - - Front Page - Glenn Cord­ing­ley and Jakeb Wad­dell

Could pop-up shops and mo­bile food vans send ex­ist­ing re­tail­ers, cafes and restau­rants in Broome to the wall? Pic­tured is real es­tate agent Tony Hutchin­son with Run­way Bar & Restau­rant man­ager Tex Kitchen.

Broome busi­nesses bat­tling to pay rates and rents are wor­ried a pro­posal to al­low pop-up traders and food vans into se­lected lo­ca­tions would sound their death knell.

The Shire of Broome is con­sid­er­ing mak­ing changes to its trad­ing in pub­lic places pol­icy af­ter in­creased re­quests from peo­ple want­ing to be­come mo­bile traders.

In his sub­mis­sion to the coun­cil, Broome real es­tate agent Tony Hutchin­son said the coun­cil needed to be mind­ful about what ef­fects in­creased com­pe­ti­tion would have on ex­ist­ing traders, in­clud­ing cafes and restau­rants.

Mr Hutchin­son said they all con­trib­uted large amounts of rates but the only re­quire­ment for stall­hold­ers and food vans was a trad­ing li­cence, which could spec­ify cer­tain days or hours of op­er­a­tion. “The non-per­ma­nent peo­ple should pay rent re­flect­ing the amount of busi­ness be­ing done and rents paid by com­peti­tors,” he said.

Mr Hutchin­son be­lieves in­tro­duc­tion of the the so-called “trad­ing nodes” would be dis­as­trous on busi­nesses strug­gling with a down­turn in the lo­cal econ­omy and changes in re­tail spend­ing habits.

“We could be­come a pop-up town with lim­ited per­ma­nent spe­cial­ist re­tail­ers and food providers,” he said.

Three restau­rants have closed in the town over the past year — 18 De­grees, Cafe D’Amore and Azuki Fu­sion. The prop­er­ties re­main va­cant and avail­able for lease.

Mr Hutchin­son said pop-up shops and food vans should be re­stricted to re­mote lo­ca­tions away from re­tail ar­eas or be lim­ited to fes­ti­vals and mar­kets or in avail­able va­cant shops.

The pro­posed trad­ing nodes would be at Town Beach, Broome Re­cre­ation and Aquatic Cen­tre, Cable Beach, Tanami Park and Chinatown in the CBD.

Un­der cur­rent coun­cil pol­icy, pop-up traders and food vans are gen­er­ally pro­hib­ited from op­er­at­ing within 300m of a com­pet­ing per­ma­nent busi­ness.

The coun­cil said they had the ca­pac­ity to ac­ti­vate pub­lic spaces and at­tract peo­ple, while in­creas­ing eco­nomic ac­tiv­ity and adding di­ver­sity and vi­brancy.

A max­i­mum of three pop-up traders/food vans would be al­lowed at any one time within a trad­ing node. In re­la­tion to Chinatown, the coun­cil said they would be al­lowed dur­ing cer­tain times — such as cruise-ship days — and in spe­cific lo­ca­tions to “min­imise con­flicts with per­ma­nent traders”.

Ev­ery busi­ness in Chinatown with whom the Broome Advertiser spoke had con­cerns with the pro­posal. Run­way Bar & Restau­rant man­ager Tex Kitchen said in­creas­ing the num­ber of pop-up traders and food vans had the po­ten­tial to “kill the town”.

“It would be dif­fi­cult for us as a per­ma­nent restau­rant and bar to com­pete with a food van while we keep our doors open over the wet, pay rent for the fa­cil­ity and come up with wages,” he said.

“We are all for them dur­ing mar­kets and fes­ti­vals, but if the num­ber con­tin­ues to in­crease, it could se­ri­ously im­pact lo­cal busi­nesses.”

Pearl re­tailer David Gal­wey said pop-up traders should be re­stricted to events and be com­pelled to work the same hours that per­ma­nent re­tail­ers are open.

“If it is not re­stricted to spe­cial event days, we will wind up with a lot of busi­nesses pos­si­bly clos­ing their doors as they can­not com­pete with those who run a van with­out all the over­heads and costs,” he said.

Man­grove Ho­tel gen­eral man­ager Glyn Bat­ten said it was es­sen­tial per­ma­nent op­er­a­tors made rev­enue dur­ing the peak tourist sea­son.

“Any neg­a­tive im­pact on the pe­ri­ods where ev­ery­one is try­ing to make a liv­ing is a detri­ment to the town as it means per­ma­nent busi­nesses can­not con­tinue trad­ing,” he said.

Shady Lane Cafe man­ager Deb­bie Young said the pro­posal was “just not good enough”.

“It would af­fect not only our busi­ness, but many other traders in Chinatown and the Shire have to look else­where,” she said.

Yuen Wing Gen­eral Store owner Kwok Chan said while Chinatown busi­nesses paid land rates and taxes, mo­bile traders could “pop up, make money and leave with­out pay­ing these rates”.

Pic­ture: Jakeb Wad­dell.

Pic­ture: Jakeb Wad­dell

Cus­tomers line up at food vans dur­ing last year's Shinju Mat­suri fes­ti­val.

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