Lismore's CBD feels the pinch of dollar drain
By HELEN JACK
LISMORE business owner Frank Cook is feeling the pinch after experiencing a downturn in CBD shopper traffic over the past six months.
Owner of The Book Box in the Star Court Arcade since 2003, Mr Cook said he thought shoppers were being lured away by Lismore Shopping Square.
"The arcade was a dynamic place a year ago," he said. "Not any more."
Lismore Unlimited president Phil Hanlon said Lismore shopper dollars were being lured away from its CBD not just by a revamped Lismore Shopping Square, but to a Gold Coast made more accessible by improved roads. "You can be at Robina or Pacific Fair in an hour and a half and shop all weekend ? you can't shop in Lismore all weekend," he said.
He said the dollar drain was more dramatic than most people realised, estimating between $200 million and $300 million crossing the NSW/Queensland border from the Northern Rivers each year.
"And Lismore cops the biggest loss," he said.
Mr Hanlon said pressure on Lismore also came from the coast where, over the past few years, retail business between Lennox Head and Byron Bay had doubled.
But such news has not dampened his spirit. Instead he is determined to revitalise business in Lismore's CBD and reverse the dollar drain.
"There's a huge population of 750,000 people just over the border. We should lure them to our incredibly beautiful environment, culture with local artists, and wonderful local produce," he said.
"It's a great product. We just have to wave the flag. "I agree the Square has taken some of our business, but downtown CBD is unique. We just have to tell everyone."