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Iconic Ballina store closing

SAD DAY: Elton and Rodney Cummings will close the shop in Ballina at the end of June.
SAD DAY: Elton and Rodney Cummings will close the shop in Ballina at the end of June. Mireille Merlet-Shaw

IN ITS 65th year of trading, an iconic family-owned Ballina store will close its doors at the end of this month.

General manager of the Cummings electrical goods store, Elton Cummings, admitted it was sad the shop was closing, "but it was a thing that was going to have to happen".

His father, who turned 90 on Anzac Day this year, started the business as a bicycle sales and repair shop after he returned home from his Second World War army service.

He then started selling radios and later black-and-white televisions to expand the business and opened other stores in the region, employing 100 people in its heyday.

Elton said his dad was understandably upset by the decision to close the Ballina store, but that his parents "were practical people".

Today, the Cummings business is aligned to the Bi-Rite group after having been part of the now-collapsed Retravision for more than 40 years.

Elton Cummings said the price of electronic goods had dropped in today's market, so while the store still sold the same number of items it had in previous years, the profit margin was getting less and less while overheads were increasing.

It then came down to simple economics.

"The business can't generate as much income as the property," he said.

The Cummings family has already secured a tenant for the River St shop - the fourth premises the Cummings business has occupied since first opening a shop in what was known as the Arthur building on the corner of Martin and River Sts, which is now occupied by a florist.

Of the eight staff in the Ballina store, Mr Cummings said two had been made redundant and the others would be redeployed in the business.

Mr Cummings said the business would still be able to service its loyal Ballina customers through its online arm, and through the Lismore store.

The family will keep the Grafton, Lismore and Yamba stores open, and they will also maintain their kitchen building business headquarters in Ballina with the office to stay upstairs in the River St building.

A store at Byron Bay was closed about six years ago.

Mr Cummings said the closure of the Ballina store also was a reflection of the changing nature of River St in Ballina to more boutique shops.



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