Heavy flood water tears through the Lismore CBD.
Heavy flood water tears through the Lismore CBD. Marc Stapelberg

Post-flood community spirit has evaporated: LETTER

I AM a retail shop owner in CBD Lismore.

We, as many, lost almost everything in the March disaster at our business place.

We also lost our wages, savings, hope, desire and a fair amount of interest in servicing the public.

Lismore is a region that talks community support every day.

A region that gathers together to protest the accidental killing of a tree on a construction site.

The community who gravitates together to fight inequality of gender, marriage, poor treatment of refugees, CSG, animal rights and the use of plastic bags for shopping; all worthy causes.

But this "community" has begun to treat the retailers with disregard, disrespect and an off-handedness that is frankly not community minded.

When a person attends a shop in town and vocally talks about the expense of your product and how buying online is better or openly states that the other shop is better, or "hey your shop smells bad, why didn't you clean it better", or "why don't you have the same selection as before the flood" and my favourite, "so I read that you lost most everything in the flood, so can I get a discount for this purchase".

How is it that this is not seen as rude, unsympathetic, callous and, frankly, disrespectful?

We retailers in Lismore pay on average $700-$1500 per week for retail rent plus GST, council rates, plus electricity and water usage in many instances.

This is before wages, not to ourselves, but to those whom the CBD retailers employ.

If housing in this area were at the same rate the protest would be bigger than Bentley.

Now apply the restocking of the store you just reopened, plus the stock you just paid for that you never got to sell, because it was destroyed, the time the shop was closed and the owner went without wages, the owner's family that went without income but, like many, the store still paid staff wages.

All with no income or very, very little.

Have some respect and compassion.

If you don't like the price or the style or the make or whatever, keep your mouth shut.

Every whispered, and I use this word lightly, comment you make is a freaking dagger into the hearts and minds of every business person who struggles each day to come in and provide products and service to the community even when they really don't want to.

We, the retailers, have to keep our lips closed and act like adults with decorum and tell you how right you are.

Maybe as a consumer you should have some respect and admiration for the small business person and have a heart like you all say you do.

PLEASE. Shop local - buy your kids and your friends a local job.

- Name withheld.

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