Cham­pion of small busi­ness goes un­der

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - NEWS -

THE dire sit­u­a­tion fac­ing small busi­nesses in Port Dou­glas was painfully demon­strated with the clo­sure of four busi­nesses in Macrossan St last week.

Some­thing Trop­i­cal, Some­thing Trop­i­cal For Kids, the Port Dou­glas T-shirt Com­pany and Bam­boo Shack closed the doors for the final time last Wed­nes­day af­ter own­ers Doug and Wendy Calvert went into vol­un­tary ad­min­is­tra­tion.

The busi­ness clo­sures bring the num­ber of empty shops in the Port Dou­glas re­tail precinct to around 50.

Even more har­row­ing for the lo­cal busi­ness com­mu­nity is the fact the lat­est ca­su­al­ties of the eco­nomic down­turn were two of the re­gion’s great­est cham­pi­ons.

Mr Calvert has been a driv­ing force on the Port Dou­glas Cham­ber of Com­merce com­mit- tee for the past three years and was re­spon­si­ble for se­cur­ing the Melbourne Busi­ness School’s “Re­vi­talise Port Dou­glas” project which brought some of Australia’s bright­est minds to the town ear­lier this year to help shed some light and sug­gest some so­lu­tions to the is­sues crip­pling many lo­cal busi­nesses.

He was also the driv­ing force in high­light­ing the plight of the lo­cal re­tail sec­tor and li­aised chal­lenges fac­ing Port and many other tourist towns in Australia and hence re­flect­ing back it’s not sur­pris­ing that we now have nearly 50 va­cant shops. Un­for­tu­nately many more have con­fided in me they are also plan­ning an exit over the next six months.

I have been work­ing to do some rad­i­cal surgery to at­tempt to save the sink­ing ship. Un­for­tu­nately a bit like Ti­tanic the prob­lems started a long time be­fore I hit the ice­berg.

We planned on clos­ing all four shops and mov­ing into two shops in the new de­vel­op­ment where E.J’S used to be, a great plan which would re­sult in less wages and half the rent and re­turn us to some de­gree of prof­itabil­ity and en­able us to get through the in­creas­ing trough of the low sea­son.

This had the full sup­port of the bank and all my busi­ness ad­vi­sors, how­ever the ANZ Bank re­moved the sup­port two weeks ago based on its lack of con­fi­dence in Port in the next five to 10 years. We then ap­pointed a liq­uida­tor and the rest is his­tory. Ev­ery busi­ness is a gam­ble. In hind­sight we gam­bled on Port, threw the dice, and lost. with coun­cil, gov­ern­ment and com­mu­nity lead­ers to work to­wards a bet­ter out­come.

PDCC pres­i­dent Ken Dobbs said Doug and Wendy’s con­tri­bu­tions would be sorely missed.

“Un­for­tu­nately they have be­come the lat­est vic­tims of the very prob­lems the MBS re­port high­lighted,” he said.

“It is a tragedy the Port Dou­glas com­mu­nity has lost them.”

I am very proud of the Cham­ber of Com­merce’s achieve­ments and our plans we have all de­vel­oped to sup­port busi­ness and the com­mu­nity. To all the knock­ers I would like to chal­lenge you to be­come in­volved and help get this beau­ti­ful town back on the path to re­cov­ery.

The MBS pro­vides a road map for the fu­ture. We can fol­low a dif­fer­ent path, as long as we all unite with a shared vi­sion with one voice.

De­spite all the neg­a­tiv­ity about Cairns Re­gional Coun­cil, I would like to con­grat­u­late and thank Ju­lia Leu, Liz Col­lyer and other coun­cil staff on their ef­forts and ded­i­ca­tion to im­prov­ing the town.

I re­ally hope you are able to ob­tain the funds to im­ple­ment the much-needed Waterfront project, along with all the “low hang­ing fruit projects” we have been dis­cussing over the past few months.

I wish to leave the town with a chal­lenge. I have no con­fi­dence that Port is ca­pa­ble of turn­ing around in the next 10 years.

Cer­tainly the banks, my busi­ness ad­vi­sors and the liq­uida­tor be­lieve there is a lot more pain to come. Re­vers­ing the “tourist mas­si­fi­ca­tion” iden­ti­fied in the MBS re­port so that Port will once again be­come a pre­mium tourist des­ti­na­tion will not hap­pen within the next 10 years.

My chal­lenge to Port Dou­glas is to prove me wrong. When we come back to Port in 10 years time I want peo­ple to say I was wrong. If not I’ll be book­ing a $50 a night room, eat­ing take away, shop­ping in a “noth­ing over $5” shop. So please prove me wrong since this is not a very ap­peal­ing thought.

We have met so many won­der­ful peo­ple in this beau­ti­ful town and have made life­long friend­ships. We are richer for the ex­pe­ri­ence and at least we can say we have lived life to the fullest and given it our best shot. Wendy and I would like to thank ev­ery­one for their friend­ship and sup­port and we will main­tain con­tact with many of you.

Photo by JESSIE TOL­SON

Gone: an empty Some­thing Trop­i­cal

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