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The changing face of business in Stawell

STAWELL’S Central Business District appears more active and alive than it has for a number of years.
Nanjing Night Net

This can be attributed to businesses new and old, flourishing at the hands of owner/operators who are both fresh and experienced.

Justin Barber and Daniel Digney at Hammer and Gad.

Nineteen year old Rachael Hedges is the newest and youngest person to take on the retail challenge.

Ms Hedges has not long opened Indigo Lane, a store stocking clothes for babies and beyond.

While her mother runs the business side of the operation, Ms Hedges is behind the counter full time along with one other part time staff member.

Ms Hedges said she recognised a need to make children’s wear more available and affordable.

“There has been a good response from people so far,” she said.

“They are glad to see a shop that offers more children’s clothing,” she said.

“We’re all aware that shopping in country towns can be costly, but what we’ve tried to do is encourage more people to shop locally by making it more affordable,” she said.

When the opportunity to purchase the family friendly cafe/restaurant/bar Lillies and Lattes in Main Street arose, joint owners Justin Barber and Daniel Digney jumped at the chance.

“Daniel and I have both wanted to run our own businesses for a long time and we saw a big opportunity here and room to grow,” Mr Barber said.

“This may sound weird coming from a younger person of Stawell, but we love Stawell and we thought why not? It was that simple.”

Lillies and Lattes caters for all ages at all times of the day.

“We don’t try and market to any specific demographic. We want everyone to feel welcome,” Mr Barber said.

“We also provide entertainment, live music, disc jockey and pool (eight ball) competitions to accommodate both young and older people.

“The food is great, the coffee is great, the beers are cold and we are proud to employ 14 people.”

As the weather heats up Mr Barber has promised even more developments in the coming months, including a new night menu.

“We really want something for the people of Stawell to do after 6pm. We shouldn’t have to leave Stawell every weekend to have a good time,” he said.

Mr Barber has encouraged the people of Stawell to focus on a future where tourism and new businesses are key to keeping the town economically viable.

“That can only be done by people taking a risk and going for it,” he said.

“We need to think outside the square and we need to lead by example.

“There are a lot of people that are having a go, both young and old and its great. We still need more people to jump on the bandwagon, you will be surprised at how contagious a positive attitude can be.”

Northern Grampians Shire Council’s Business Services and Tourism Officer, Shelly Chalmers, heaped praise on the determined and positive nature of the young entrepreneurs.

“Just to show the enthusiasm for being here and that they want to get in and have a go is fantastic and very encouraging,” Ms Chalmers said.

“They are so enthusiastic, it’s really good for Stawell,” she said.

Council’s Manager Economic Growth Debbie Bach said the growth in business driven by our youth has helped to reinvigorate the town.

“We’re very pleased to see them taking that step,” Mrs Bach said.

“It is a big step for anybody to go into a business, let alone when your that young, so we think it is a really positive thing for the town.

“It sends out a really good message to everyone, that young people are prepared to stay here and be involved in our community.”

And with even further developments on the horizon, the present positive vibes should carry the town well into the future.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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