Bluesfest brings business boom

BLUESFEST’S shift from Byron Bay has been welcomed by business operators in Mullumbimby and Brunswick Heads, as the north of Byron Shire received a much-needed economic boost on the weekend.

Reports were that Mullumbimby and Brunswick Heads were home to plenty of festival goers stocking up on supplies or taking a break from partying on Saturday and Sunday.

Given the traditionally slow February-March retail period, it is expected the Easter holiday spike will help keep many businesses in the North of Byron Shire ticking over in coming months.

Mishka Kelly, from the Closet vintage fashion store in Mullumbimby said the festival was well timed given the slower retail sector trade of previous months.

“To know we’ve got the festival coming every year is fantastic; we’re thrilled,” she said.

Ms Kelly said the impact of the festival crowds in her store had been obvious.

“I’ve definitely noticed an increase in sales. It’s been worth opening every day,” she said.

“I don’t think we would have opened all Easter if it wasn’t for the festival.

A few doors down from Closet, Aileen Pepper at Mullumbimby Disposals agreed there had been a boost for retailers during the weekend.

“It has made a huge difference,” she said.

“I think it’s been the same for the whole town.”

Ms Pepper said she had sold plenty of pairs of gumboots to festival goers looking for some insurance against a rain soaked festival site.

Over at Brunswick Heads on Saturday afternoon, the town looked like it was in the grip of Christmas holidays as visitors and locals fanned out along the river and filled seats in the town’s cafes and restaurants.

Karen Rosen, executive officer of the Brunswick Heads Chamber of Commerce, said her information was that the festival move had been good news for the town.

“We have been flat out at the visitor’s centre, and I haven’t heard anything negative so far,” she said.

But Ms Rosen said despite the extra people, the holiday mood in Brunswick Heads had not been dented

“There’s been a nice atmosphere. It’s been busy, but there is a lovely feeling of good will,” she said.

Former Byron Shire Councillor and current President of the Ocean Shores Community Association Jan Mangleson said the festival move had been a boon for the northern part of Byron Shire.

“I’d say economically it’s been very good Ocean Shores, Mullumbimby and Brunswick Heads,” she said.

While hard to get definitive figures, the news after the weekend seemed to be that although the festival move provided a big boost for the north, it wasn’t offset by an equivalent slump in Byron Bay.

Several shop owners who spoke to The Northern Star were cautiously optimistic that their weekend turnover had not suffered dramatically during the Easter weekend.

Beach Hotel manager Wayne van Haandel said there had not been a noticeable difference to the pub’s weekend trading despite Bluesfest moving to Tyagarah.

“Saturday night was massive. It was a typical Easter weekend,” he said.

And Barb Galea from Australia the Gift on Jonson Street said that despite operating on shorter trading hours this Easter, the store’s takings on some days were up compared with last year.

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