Bargain hunters descend on Lismore Square
By Nerida Blok
Eager shoppers counted down in unison for the doors to open at Big W at the extended Lismore Shopping Square yesterday.
As doors lifted for the opening of the $40 million project at 8am the rush to grab a bargain created scenes similar to those seen at metropolitan Boxing Day sales.
Developer Jim McConaghy could barely be heard as he gave his 'thank you' speech to all involved at a breakfast ceremony, with guests including project team members, centre management, Lismore City councillors and staff.
Helping to open the centre, Lismore mayor Merv King also struggled to be heard above the buzz of excitement behind him.
"What a great day it is for Lismore," Cr King said. "It's a sign of things to come."
The centre incorporates 34 new specialty stores and a 450-seat food court.
Emerging early with goods from Big W was Frances Sheehan and her four daughters, from Lismore.
"I've just done a big Christmas layby," she said. "And the girls are going to be buying board shorts from City Beach."
Mrs Sheehan said the new centre was wonderful.
"It saves us going up to Tweed Heads now," she said.
Mr McConaghy was equally pleased with the success of the centre's opening, estimating between 22,000 and 24,000 shoppers would have visited throughout the day.
He said the increased competition brought by big new players ? Big W and Woolworths ? would only be good for the area.
"This will be the cheapest place to shop," he said. "I believe it will be good for Lismore because now the corporate world will recognise Lismore as a place to invest in retail."
While shoppers grabbed some of the many bargains on offer, those there just for a look were able to enjoy the musical entertainment provided, including the Lismore Public School choir.
Lismore police said traffic was heavy in the area, but there were no reports of accidents or parking problems.