ON THEIR first day of business at their Harbour Rd shopfront over 30 years ago, Lucy Dillon and her husband Jon recall feeling nervous wondering what to say when their first customer walked in.
Three decades later, the couple has become well known in the region, having dressed brides for their weddings, helped families with parties and events and people with their craft and scrapbooking over the years.
Mr and Mrs Dillon first opened the business Lucy Dillon For Brides after their own marriage in Mackay in 1983; Lucy had received rave reviews on the wedding invitations she designed.
People started to ask if she would design theirs too, and things took off from there.
“I remember at the time approaching Jill Burston For Brides and letting them know we wanted to start this business (supplying invitations) because we didn’t want to just come in and be stepping on their toes,” Mrs Dillon said.
“And we weren’t sure what they would say but they were encouraging and happy for us. She (Jill) said ‘here’s the book, go for it’.
“We've been in business ever since and eventually we added on the Crafty Cat side so people who only read the name knew that we had simple art supplies too.”
However, with a heavy heart, the couple announced on Thursday that they would be closing Lucy Dillon For Brides and Crafty Cat, and thanked their customers for the many happy years.
It was a bittersweet moment for Mrs Dillon, who said she didn’t want to close, but was forced out due to business slowing down over the last four years.
“I am devastated to be closing up, I was crying when I put that post out on Facebook,” she said.
“Ever since the revitalisation of the city centre, when out the front of our shop was basically under construction for about two years, no one had anywhere to park and it led customers to go online. Only a few came back.
“We went from about $1000 a day to $150 to $300 and it’s just not enough to pay the bills any more, so as much as we would love to stay open, unfortunately it’s time.”
The business has moved several times in its three decades; initially starting from a desk in the Dillon home, then to Harbour Rd, and then to two spots on Victoria St.
At 96 Victoria St for the most part, the couple said much has changed since they first opened – from the cityscape, to customers and the shops that came and went. “When we first moved in to that spot there were big beautiful palm trees lining the streets and the mosaic art work on the pavement,” Mr Dillon said.
“You would get lots of people coming down, both locals and tourists, just to see it and take photos, it was lovely to look outside, we loved working from the shop and being around the buzz.
“It was definitely a lot busier, the CBD felt like a metropolis, there were just people everywhere, so things have definitely changed in that respect too.”
Mr Dillon said at the time shops like Batros, Indian Brothers and Cafe Monet were thriving on the street and all the shop attendants and owners got to know each other well.
They are lifelong friends with people like Mavis May, who had her boutique a few doors up, and regular customers, who often just popped in for a chat.
“That will be the hardest part, just saying goodbye to everyone. We really appreciate the support and friendship our customers have given us over the years,” Ms Dillon said.
But it’s not all bad news, the couple are hoping to keep their cake decorating and supplies side of the business, and open up a small shop for it down the track.
For the moment they will focus on shutting shop, due to close their doors in coming months, no date has been set in stone yet.
SAYING GOODBYE: Lucy Dillon For Brides will be closing down for good after more than 32 years in business. A final closure date has not been set.