MOVING ON: Lismore's Spotlight, a destination store, will be moving from the CBD into a 2500sqm site at the new Home Consortium centre in South Lismore.
MOVING ON: Lismore's Spotlight, a destination store, will be moving from the CBD into a 2500sqm site at the new Home Consortium centre in South Lismore. Hamish Broome

Lismore CBD's future uncertain with loss of iconic stores

IT IS now no secret that Betta Electrical Lismore is moving from its traditional home in the Lismore CBD to the new Home Consortium shopping centre in South Lismore.

Anyone who has paid a visit to the new store over the past few weeks would have noticed the word "Betta" already printed on the store map - right next to BCF.

And tradies are hard at work preparing the electrical and white goods retailer's new home.

Betta will occupy one of the two biggest spaces in the new shopping centre, alongside Spotlight at the other end.

Home Consortium chairman David Di Pilla has previously referred to "anchor tenants" occupying those spaces.

Spotlight and Betta share something else in common - they have both moved (or in Betta's case about to move) out of the Lismore CBD.

In fact, the pair of shops were anchor tenants in the same building on Woodlark St.

So far, on balance the Home Consortium centre has acted more as a new premises for existing Lismore retailers than as a way for entirely new retail chains to come to town. BCF was new, but Spotlight and Betta definitely are not.

While some might see this as bad for the CBD, there is another perspective. Retail is evolving to favour bigger destination shopping experiences.

GROWING PAINS

In July, Spotlight boss Zac Fried told The Northern Star that Spotlight had outgrown its CBD store.

He said the Lismore store was one of the last of the 1970s stores, which the family owned business originally opened up for the first time in Melbourne after launching the business at the Victoria Market.

Mr Fried characterised the decision as either move to Home Consortium, or move out of Lismore all together.

Perhaps Betta Electrical is in the same position, although they haven't been approached for an official comment yet.

So is it bad? Not necessarily - with the loss of such landmark retailers, the Lismore CBD simply needs to evolve in a new direction.

FUTURE TENSE

High street commercial property in bigger cities has evolved to favour less generic retail, and more boutiques and unique retailers, cafes, offices, real estate agents, and hairdressers.

This trend is already in evidence in Lismore, and makes the town a more interesting place.

The question remains, how to use two such large spaces which will be vacant with the departure of Betta, and previously Spotlight - which held one of the best flood proof sites in the CBD, with a fully retractable escalator.

I'm sure this is a question which is keeping the landlord up at night, who has just lost not one but two rental incomes.

Some have suggested large retail spaces in the CBD should be carved up into smaller ones so rents are cheaper and they can accommodate more shops or businesses.

Perhaps the old Spotlight store could be home to a gym or a recreational destination.

For the right business, the city centre location could be a godsend.



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