David Hudson, owner of The Cosmetic Shop in Woodlark Street, is concerned about empty shops in the CBD.
David Hudson, owner of The Cosmetic Shop in Woodlark Street, is concerned about empty shops in the CBD.

Plan to boost Lismore CBD

By EMMA O'NEILL emma.oneill@northernstar.com.au TWO years ago, David Hudson opened The Cosmetic Shop on Woodlark Street, next to a vacant shop.

Today, the shop next door to Mr Hudson's business is still vacant.

In fact, there are now five vacant shops on Woodlark Street, and a number of empty shopfronts in the Lismore CBD.

On top of this, Lismore Chamber of Commerce general manager Mark Willoughby said he knew of at least three business owners who had recently discussed moving out of town.

The reason for this small business exodus was one topic of discussion at a meeting of chamber board members yesterday. Lismore Chamber director Brenton Shalders said it wasn't enough to simply entice businesses to fill these empty shops.

"We need to establish why these businesses keep leaving," he said.

Mr Hudson said a rise in the number of online businesses with cheaper products and a rise in rent were major reasons for businesses shipping out of main streets.

Mr Willoughby said it was vital the emerging cycle of businesses moving into the CBD and leaving soon after was broken.

"It will require a consolidation of resources from the Chamber of Commerce, the Economic Development Unit and the Lismore Tourism Board to fix this problem," he said.

Mr Shalders said while it was important to attract tourists, it was vital for the EDU to carry out an audit of businesses and establish what the town needed.

"We need a long-term solution to this problem," he said. Mr Hudson said shopping in any CBD should be thought of as theatre.

"We need to entertain and entice people," he said. If the chamber can attract new businesses and tourists to the CBD, Woodlark Street could become a show-stopper.



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