The Gazette (Derwent Valley) - - Front Page - ALICE CLAR­IDGE

BUSI­NESS op­er­a­tors in New Nor­folk are still do­ing it tough fol­low­ing the re­cent fire in the town’s main street and none more so than Di­rect Fur­ni­ture’s Lester Black­well.

Mr­black­well owns the three build­ings ad­join­ing the now va­cant corner of High and Bur­nett streets — the Fur­ni­ture Di­rect build­ing, an­other which is oc­cu­pied by Keith Rus­sell’s New Nor­folk Meat Sup­ply, and the for­mer Camelot fash­ion shop, which had closed a few weeks be­fore the fire.

Although the to­tal cost has yet to be de­ter­mined, the busi­ness suf­fered at least $70,000 worth of dam­age from the fire.

A day be­fore the fire, Mr Black­well and his staff had been ren­o­vat­ing the for­mer Camelot shop, as he was plan­ning to turn the space into a clear­ance out­let.

‘‘It has been a very dif­fi­cult time to say the least,’’ Mr Black­well said.

‘‘We have stock in­sur­ance, but no in­ter­rup­tion for busi­ness in­sur­ance. But peo­ple have been very sup­port­ive.

‘‘We were lucky we were able to re­open the tem­po­rary shop on High St af­ter just three days.

‘‘The main store on Bur­nett St has been closed for weeks [but] we are in the final stages of re­fit­ting it out.’’

The tem­po­rary shop had been stocked full of new Sleep­easy stock which was to be sold at a dis­counted rate for a limited time, but it all sus­tained ei­ther smoke or water dam­age from the fire.

Mr Black­well said Sleep­easy had gen­er­ously al­lowed him to con­tinue the ex­clu­sive sale on beds for an ex­tended pe­riod of time and there were still bar­gains to be had.

‘‘It has hit us hard. I think ev­ery­one in the CBD has done it tough,’’ he said.

‘‘It’s still hard to be­lieve it has all hap­pened.

‘‘The com­mu­nity is strong and we will rise above this. We just re­ally need the peo­ple of the Der­went Val­ley to keep vis­it­ing the CBD and sup­port lo­cally-owned busi­nesses.’’

Mr Black­well said the butcher’s shop was forced to close while the Lee build­ing was de­mol­ished and con­tin­ues to suf­fer from lost foot traf­fic to and from Banjo’s bak­ery.

POS­I­TIVE: Fur­ni­ture Di­rect owner Lester Black­well is de­ter­mined to get back to busi­ness af­ter fire dev­as­tated sev­eral of his prop­er­ties in New Nor­folk last month. Picture: ROGER LOVELL

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