Jude Hannah is back and she means business
❝When people ask, my comment is to be ahead of online. Add value to your products and offer some buy now discounts or add a package deal❞
RAISED in country Victoria, Jude Hannah knows a thing or two about what makes a country town tick along.
And after a career that has taken her around the world, the Wedderburn local has come back to country Victoria, helping smaller communities capitalise on their tourism assets.
She said she was relishing living back home and getting to pass on her experience to small towns.
“I wanted to focus on regional Victoria now that I’ve moved back to Fernyhurst, I’m much happier living there than dealing with the seven lanes of traffic in cities,” she said.
She said the decision to move back home hit her one day while she was living in America, she began to get homesick.
“I had one of those moments overseas where I’d done everything career-wise and thought to myself ‘I don’t want to die and be buried in the US — I want to be in a local cemetery.’’
When she stopped in Kyabram recently she was tutoring local business owners on how to create theatre in the street and draw people through the town.
But she also touched on why it’s important to keep the street retail scene alive, with each shop having something different to offer customers.
“It’s about creating experiences. You need to do more than just put a product on the shelves and stand there,” Jude said.
“Also, what’s your succession plan for the store? It’s important to know what you’re doing and how long you’re there for.”
When looking for examples, Jude pointed to hardware giant Bunnings and the store’s affinity for offering ‘how-to’ workshops on weekends and on afternoons.
“Retail has turned that corner and now you have to offer more. A homewares store could do cooking demonstrations and other displays,” she said.
Jude also said with the rise of online shopping, store owners need to become more savvy and not take price differences into account.
“When people ask, my comment is to be ahead of online. Add value to your products and offer some buy now discounts or add a package deal,” Jude said.
“It all comes down to customer loyalty and retention. With the local Chamber of Commerce they’ve really emphasised the local angle and to promote the friendliness of the town.
“So call people out on it, promote local and what people are doing locally. It’s the typical elevator pitch, what would you tell people in a five-minute conversation if they asked you about your town?”